The Introduction of Vernaculars in Schools

By Paramanund Soobarah

At long last the Government has decided to take the nation into confidence. For the first in the history of our education system, the public at large is informed by a communiqué from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources that it is intended to organise a forum on the subject of introducing the Creole language in schools, and that interested persons and organizations are invited to submit their positions in writing to the Ministry. This initiative is a first for which we must very warmly thank and congratulate Hon Vasant Bunwaree, Minister of Education and Human Resources.

Education policies have in the past, particularly since the great electoral catastrophe of 1982, been driven by bureaucrats in consultation with leftist intellectuals acting behind closed doors. For instance, when it was decided by a previous administration to devise a script for the Creole language, the task was assigned to a committee of linguists who all had vested interests in the matter or who thought they knew too much and did not care to invite views from the public. Actually, the views expressed in several articles in Mauritius Times on the subject were totally disregarded. What resulted was the concoction known as grafilarmoni which is totally inimical to French orthography. This script, if adopted officially by the government for our children, will kill off French completely in the education system, except if you are rich enough to send your child to Lycée Labourdonnais or some other similar private institution – as those involved in foisting grafilarmoni over us actually did and may still be doing.

At the Brindaban Linguistic and Cultural Genocide Watch Group we accept the importance of the Creole language and accept its position as a foster-mother tongue, with the pride of place for us being held by Bhojpuri, our real mother tongue. But we have strong doubts about whether the Indo-Mauritian community would relish the idea of replacing French with Creole as the language of education, culture and civilisation. Our elders worked very hard to acquire the language and have bequeathed it to us to tend and treasure. We are putting our views on the matter forward to the Ministry.

Mauritius Times has generously agreed to put a copy of our submission on line this week. Readers’ comments will be welcome; they may be sent by e-mail to:
lcgwg@hotmail. com

* Published in print edition on 25 June 2010

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