Centre roots for translation of laws passed by County Assembly into vernacular
Kwale residents’ challenge in following the County Assembly business due to language barriers may soon be a thing of the past if a proposal to have its resolutions translated into vernacular is approved.
The Duruma and Digo Translation and Literacy Centre seeks to have all laws and policies passed by the Assembly progressively translated into local languages to make them more accessible to ordinary residents and enable them comprehend their contents.
“We plan to approach and partner with the Assembly in this endeavor since a large population in this region is illiterate and can hardly grasp the affairs of the House since all its proceedings are recorded in English,” said Mr. Elechi Mwabiti, the county vernacular language coordinator.
Three years ago the Assembly passed a Motion that seeks to compel the county government to document and preserve Digo and Duruma languages, a move that was hailed by residents as it would promote preservation of indigenous languages.
Mr. Mwabiti was speaking at a graduation ceremony where 76 primary school children including nine adults were awarded certificates of achievement for having successfully attained mother tongue reading and writing fluency in Chidigo language,at Kwale Cultural Centre.
He said the centre through donor funding focuses on translation and promotion of Kidigo and Kiduruma literacy programmes.
He added that a pilot project to promote the use of vernacular language in instruction in the early years of education is already underway in 12 schools in the county as part of a wider plan to cover all local schools.
Mr. Mwabiti said bypassing vernacular languages in favour of English and Kiswahili at lower primary in the county denies children proper grounding and was partly to blame for their persistent dismal academic performance compared to other regions.
He said their project was in line with the new curriculum, which requires learners in lower primary to be subjected to indigenous language activities under the new 2-6-6-3 education system which replaces the 8-4-4 system.
“We rolled our home languages programme even before the new curriculum and our effort has been recognised and lauded by the Education Ministry,” he noted
“The use of mother-tongue is critical and should be encouraged as people understand issues better in a language they are familiar with,” he said.
The centre has translated several books into Duruma and Digo languages focusing on various themes among them health, culture, religion, and education, according to Mr. Mwabiti.
The official underscored the need to sensitise locals especially the youth on the value of mother-tongue as an important aspect of cultural identity.
By James Muchai