Kisii Governor James Ongwae supports teaching of Ekegusii in lower classes to preserve language

The Ekegusii language could be extinct in the next 50 years unless urgent measures to promote its use are established, Governor James Ongwae has said.

Mr Ongwae supported teaching of vernacular in lower primary, but at the same time expressed concern over lack of enough books to aid teaching of the language.

Speaking when he met officials of Abagusii Culture and Development Organisation (ACDO), Ongwae directed the formation of an 11-member task-force that would spearhead development of materials to aid learning of the language.

"At home parents are encouraging Kiswahili and English while at school children are punished for speaking in their mother tongue. We say yes to teaching of vernacular, but where are the books?" lamented Ongwae.

The meeting was attended by the Vice Chancellor of Kisii University John Akama, who also supported the idea. Akama said the Department of Literature and Linguistics at the university would work with the task-force to ensure that books developed met the required standards.

"I wonder why people have issues when you speak English with an accent of your first language. As a lecturer in the US, I declined to adopt the American accent and chose to speak with the accent that made me distinct," said Prof Akama.

Some scholars argue teaching of vernacular hurts academic performance as the official medium of instruction in Kenyans schools is English.

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Ekegusii language vernacular James Ongwae