Wednesday, 18 January 2017

NATECEP: The Status of Language and Communication in Contemporary Nigeria.


An expert in his mother tongue is not an illiterate –Prof Onuekwusi


By Ndidiamaka Ndukwe & Omah Chukwuemeka

The National Association of Teachers in English in Colleges of Education and Polytechnics (NATECEP) held her recent annual conference at the School of Humanities and Social Science (SHSS) 500 capacity auditorium, Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri with the theme: The Status of Language and Communication in Contemporary Nigeria.

Making his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Deacon Iyke Nwoke who is also the Chairman, Governing Council, Covenant Polytechnic Aba, hinted that the purpose of this year’s theme is to once again look at in all totality, the importance of English language in Nigeria. He said that the conference is aimed at discussing what the status of language is now via what it used to be in the past.

Deacon Nwoke maintained that education which is used for all round development of man can only be achieved through the use of language and English language in Nigeria to be precise, stating that there is a decline in the proficiency on the use of English language. His words: 

“Many of our graduates these days can hardly make correct sentences. This is because of the neglect of literature, the separation of literature from English language and the de-emphasizing the arts. Another bane to the proficiency in the use of English is the social media. Students are now nurtured in the disrupted structure and exotic decision of the social media because they find it easier and sweeter to use them than the tasking skill of constructing good English. They even extend this to their class work using language of SMS in their essay”. He lamented

Continuing, he advised every participant not to lose sight of the fact that proficiency in English language is the hall mark of the educated person and it also remains the reason why most of our secondary schools in the past were grammar schools saying that though the curriculum of those schools had deficiencies, people like late Achebe, Soyinka and Chimamanda used language to showcase their skills.

Speaking further, Deacn Nwoke expressed pain in the way English language is being marginalized in the polytechnics and other technical institutions just because their curriculum is supposedly technical and engineering based, which makes some teachers in their institutions to discourage their students from taking courses in English language and literature while pleading with every participant to take active participation to see how the situation can be salvaged as he thanked the Rector Dr. (Mrs) C. U. Njoku for her support to seeing that this conference is a success.

Presenting his welcome address, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Chairman, Dr. Nnamdi Anumihe expressed happiness to have the honour to welcome distinguished personalities to the conference. He acknowledged the key note paper presenter, Venerable Ogonna Ibe-Enwo, the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Dr. (Mrs) Cele U. Njoku, Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing I. Ijeoma among others as he remained optimistic that after the conference which he described as brainstorming, the minds of everyone present will be challenged to revisit the old paradigms that most of us know and refuse to jettison in dealing with the reality of contemporary issues facing English language, literature and communication in present day Nigeria. He believed that some of the issues this conference will address will be deliberated and taken care of in the communiqué.

Delivering his paper, the lead paper presenter, Professor Jasper Onuekwusi pointed out that any group of people or nation who cannot communicate in the same frequency cannot carry out any tangible vision.

Prof. Onuekwusi stated that over eighty three million (83,000,000) Nigerians speak Pidgin English pointing out that every publication carry one error which has caused suspicion in our country because of difficulty to speak or comprehend English language.

He therefore proposed adult literacy since institutions of higher learning alone cannot tackle it while advocating for the use of indigenous language in teaching since an expert in his mother tongue cannot be said to be an illiterate.

However, the national Chairman of NATECEP, Mr. Aaron Nwoke presentated the 12th Journal of the association. He concluded his speech with the slogan, “in academics, if you don’t publish you perish”.

The event featured playlet by Mass Communication students, award presentation and launching of the 12th journal of the association.

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Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma