“1/3 of the world languages are in Africa, yet Africa is the only continent where children begin learning in foreign languages.” This was said by Prof. Kithaka Wa Mberia, the Chairman of the Department of Linguistics at University of Nairobi, at the International Mother Language Day celebrations held at Kenyatta University this past February.
The celebrations, dubbed ‘Our languages, Our pride’, showcased the language work of OneBook’s Kenyan partner, BTL (Bible Translation and Literacy). Various scholars participated in a lively forum debating the importance of mother tongue language instruction in the early years of a child’s education. This comes in the midst of the ongoing debate on the language policy in Kenya, which states that children are taught in the language of their catchment area.
BTL works in numerous language groups, providing a well-trained local team that develops an alphabet along with a basic literacy program. BTL believes that learning to read and write empowers people with skills to access education and opportunities for positive change. They are committed to mother tongue instruction that helps transform communities and allows people to gain confidence so that they can have a say in their own future.
OneBook supports BTL’s efforts to see the great pride and dignity that develops when communities are able to read and write in their languages.