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quarta-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2012

MOTHER TONGUE IN EDUCATION: CONFUSION

(By Fr. Jose Cancio)

Discussion about teaching mother tongues in the schools is indeed necessary in order to wake up the decision-makers. It is unnecessary to make such a decision. To implement the project in the school learning activities is confusing the children. Teaching mother tongues at schools raises several serious issues as stated by some public opinions. The Government should consider those opinions before implementing such a project. We have more than 10 mother tongues and even one district has more than one of them. If mother tongues just serve as medium for communication in the classes then it´s more confusing.

Then what about those classes of multi languages like Baucau where children from both Waima´a and Makassae even Midiki speakers? What mother tongue should the teacher use to communicate? It´s merely the project of the UNESCO and UNICEF, which does not reflect the people`s opinion and expectation. Obviously the project has a suspicious character for the foreign influence behind it to divide the people. I agree with bishop Basilio that it seems just a personal project. They know very well that our national unity is fragile, and then they take advantage of this. Absolutely, they are fooling the Timorese people with that project.

In the sociological point of view it creates gaps and barriers among the Timorese people. In my opinion, this is just a mere political decision in order to satisfy others` interest rather than the Timorese interest. There is no doubt that it would threaten our national unity and integrity.

Indeed the project itself is confusing the children. Our priority regarding the matter is Tetum. The children need to learn Tetum as national language and can be official one day. It is the only mother tongue which can unite all Timorese people, who are divided by so many mother tongues.

The Tetum language should be taught in every school at all levels alongside with the Portuguese language. We must give priority to Tetum as a symbol of national unity. What the Government must do now is to make a better policy for Tetum, standardizing it and perfecting its grammar in order to have a fixed structure in its utilization. In reality everybody writes Tetum according to his own manner, even in verbal communication most children, including adults, badly express it. Therefore, it is not wise to opt for other native tongues in the school curriculum. Otherwise we are just doing the project of those NGOs who have interest in Timor Leste for their own benefit.

The Government should promote all mother tongues existing in Timor Leste, however, not in that way. There are various informal ways to promote them as part of cultural activities. In order to protect and safeguard all mother tongues we don´t need to put them the curriculum of education. Otherwise the Government is wasting money for nothing at all. There are also various means to facilitate mother tongues learning in an informal way. Not to teach mother tongues in the schools does not mean that we are neglecting them. However, we have to settle our priority for the sake of national unity because we are still frail as a nation. What we need now is a symbol of unity, not to scatter our effort and energy, as well as means, in such fragmented idea. We should build a sense of unity in the mind of our children. It’s quite sure that the project is just for the interest of certain group. Hopefully the Government would consider the opinions from civil society, including academics and the Church.

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