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THE OCCASION TO MARK THE INTERNATIONAL MOTHER TONGUE DAY IN UGANDA

PRESS STATEMENT
ON
THE OCCASION TO MARK THE  INTERNATIONAL MOTHER TONGUE DAY  IN UGANDA

BY HON. RUKIA ISANGA NAKADAMA
MINISTER OF STATE FOR GENDER AND CULTURE
5TH APRIL 2016
•    The management and staff of the Uganda Media Centre;
•    Friends from the media;      
•    Ladies and Gentlemen

Uganda will on 8th April 2016, commemorate the International Mother Tongue Day. This day has been observed internationally on the 21st of February every year since 2000. This year however, the commemoration of the day was postponed to 8th April because of the national event that was underway then. The national celebrations will be held at the Uganda National Cultural Centre – National Theatre.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The International Mother Tongue Day is a worldwide annual observance held on 21st February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO ) on 17th  November 1999, and  recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 as the International Year of Languages. The United Nations General Assembly called upon member states to promote the preservation and protection of all languages of the world for unity, diversity and international understanding. Therefore Uganda commemorates this day as a sign of commitment to promotion of linguistic and Cultural diversity as well as multilingualism in the Country.

The 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Objective XXIV, provides for the development, preservation and enrichment of all Ugandan languages.  This is operationalized by the Uganda Culture Policy 2006, which provides for development and promotion of languages and literary arts. The promotion of language is further supported by the Uganda’s Education Policy on the use of Thematic Curriculum for P1 to P3, and the use of Local Languages as a medium of instruction at that level.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Uganda will commemorate this day on 8th April, 2016 under the following theme: Quality Education: the Contribution of Mother Tongues to Learning Outcomes in Uganda. The overall objective for commemorating this day is to advocate for the use and promotion of   mother tongues in delivering quality education in Uganda.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are over 65 indigenous communities in Uganda today with a total of 44 languages spoken. Some of these languages are developed with orthographies while others are not. This calls for the promotion and the use of mother tongues in daily life and education of our children for posterity.  

My Ministry recognizes that there are advantages in the use of mother tongue because it:
i.    Improves the children’s intellectual and social development survival rate.
ii.    Provides  identity to every society which is a channel to promotion of    positive norms, values and beliefs
iii.    Promotes literacy, numeracy and higher order cognitive skills among children. A study by Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda ,indicated that local language use helped children improve participation rates and retention at school

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Ministry in partnership different stakeholders has initiated language clusters to promote use of mother tongues in Uganda.  These clusters have organized school clubs, translated different books into local languages but also participated in awareness creation of the use and promotion of the mother tongue.  My Ministry is also working with some district local governments to develop orthographies of their communities. For example Kaabong and Kasese Districts have developed orthographies of some of their communities’ i.e. the Ik and Basongora respectively.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to inform you that use of mother tongue contributes positively to the informal and formal education outcomes. In relation to our theme for this year, use of mother tongue brings together the inputs of the family, parent and schools in the learning outcomes of our children. It is said that a child learns better in the language where he or she has many words in the vocabulary.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Ministry on behalf of Government of Uganda, We shall continue to support and promote the use of local languages in order to promote Uganda’s identity and Cultural Heritage for posterity.  This will be done through creation of an enabling environment to enable different stakeholders to contribute to preservation and promotion of languages in Uganda.

Ladies and Gentlemen at this juncture let me appreciate partners/organizations that have supported the commemoration of this important day.  They include TWAWEZA/UWEZO East Africa, Vision group of companies, LABE, Luganda, Lugwere, Lusoga Commission, Fountain Publishers, Parenting African Network (Uganda Chapter), RTI/SHRP, DIFRA Languages, Mango Tree, SIL- International, and Cross Cultural Foundation Uganda to mention a few.

Last but not least, I call upon the media to popularize the use of mother tongue in all local content programs, this is because through media the role of Mother Tongue in education will be known and appreciated by the population in Uganda.  I further invite all Ugandans and media to attend The International Mother Tongue Day 2016 that will take place on 8th March, 2016 at the National Theatre. A number of activities have been lined up beginning with an exhibition on 7th April, 2016 and a symposium by renowned Ugandan writers on 8th April, 2016. Everyone is welcome!

FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY