Opposition questions early childhood language teaching

THE Office of the Opposition is seriously questioning and demanding the Government to review its policy on early childhood teaching language, vernacular and Bislama from pre-school to class 3 primary level that was introduced back in 2015.

In a statement, Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau said the Opposition recognizes the importance of vernacular languages as part of Ni Vanuatu culture and heritage and sees no difficulty with it being taught at early childhood level particularly in the outer islands and rural areas.

He acknowledged the successful trial reports on some areas, most notably the Province of Penama.

“Bislama, however is noted as our lingua franca and is easily picked up and spoken throughout Vanuatu, hence the Opposition Office would like this policy reviewed,” the statement said.

“We want the absolute best for our children to be taught in either French and English so the teaching of Bislama at such an early age can be disruptive and a hindrance to all early childhood education.”

Mr Kalsakau said preliminary reports and feedback indicate failures in implementing this education policy, particularly regarding Bislama.

“Teachers have reported their discouragement in attempting to switch from Bislama to English and vice versa. Teachers in certain schools find it more progressive and advantageous to teach directly in English or French.”

He said the Office of the Opposition has received reports from parents expressing their children’s difficulty in differentiating Bislama spellings and vocabularies of the two languages.

“In this day and age where Vanuatu is required to take its place in international forums and be able to represent itself well and compete against the whole world, a decrease in the level of comprehension of English and French will potentially bring Vanuatu’s reputation in the world to disrepute, but will also effectively lead to a poorer country without any scope on the country’s ability to take advantage of its opportunities in the world.

“In order for Vanuatu to stand tall with its partners, not only efficiency is required but also the efficacy of its people being able to be given recognition by countries and people of the greater world.

“To that effect, the Opposition Office, mindful and wary of the fact that the Bislama is replacing a lot of vernacular language due to urban drift and intermarriges, reiterates its firm belief that the educational standard of Vanuatu can only excel and be advanced by the teaching of English and French at early childhood level.”

Mr Kalsakau said the Government’s education policy on this early childhood education should be abolished.