Ghana’s adoption of a local dialect as its official language may not come about due to the country’s political division.
The allegiance of the two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress, to a particular ethnic group can hinder the processes of official acceptance of a local language by the nation.
According to Dr. Peter Arthur of the Department of English at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), both tribal-backed parties have their members calling for acceptance of their language.
“These parties have a certain tribal base. They will reclaim the fact that they have been marginalized, if one of them has a lingua franca,” he said.
The speaker alluded to the fact that the superiority enjoyed by certain ethnic groups could also hinder adoption.
“Because the British have used split rule, the country is struggling to come together. Since then, certain ethnic groups have claimed superiority,” he added.
In 2009/2010, the National Literacy Acceleration Program found that only 18% of third graders could read Ghanaian language texts.
It follows a 2007 assessment where only 26% of students had minimal English skills.
Research has revealed that quality education is best achieved when the mode of instruction is familiar to learners.
Dr Arthur therefore pleads for the integration of local languages in basic school education
“So we can start with education, we can have so many young people from diverse ethnic backgrounds living together in boarding schools.
“The use of a lingua franca in education can start from the first grade. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia are some of the countries that use their own language and they are developing so well,” he said.
The Wassa, Ahanta and Efutu languages are some of the approximately 50 native Ghanaian languages on the brink of extinction.
Dr. Arthur attributed the extinction of these languages to ethnocentrism introduced by English colonial masters.
He stressed that the country must take steps to ensure that these local dialects are maintained.
“Just like the Latin language, if we don’t take good care of them, we will lose them forever.
“We must make a conscious effort to ensure that these languages are retained forever because they are our identity,” he said.