Prof Thiong'o asks government to invest more on publishing of books written in vernacular

Award-winning novelist/writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o addressing journalists at Ong'ata Olorien Secondary School in Narok South sub-county on June 19,2019.He asked the government to invest more in mother tongue books to boost literacy in schools. [Robert Kiplagat/Standard]

The Government has been asked to invest more resources in the publishing of books written in vernacular to boost literacy.

Novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o (right), who spoke at Ongata Olorien Secondary School in Narok yesterday, also hailed the adoption of the new curriculum.

“My position has always been clear. Mother tongue is primary for intellectual and cultural development of any person. It is a repository of primary knowledge and memories that can be compared to a hard drive in a computer,” said Prof Ngugi.

The author of Weep Not Child, a popular novel first published in 1964, asked the Government to consider supporting vernacular writers by buying their books for use in schools.

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“I appreciate the new Kenyan curriculum for inculcating primary languages but my worry is that more resources seem to be spent by Government in buying books written in English. I think the East African Education Publishers have so far published in five languages and publishers should be supported to do more,” he said.

Ngugi continued: “Every child should be rooted to vernacular language. Other languages such as Kiswahili, English and others are important but they should never be at the expense of mother tongue.”

He encouraged students with a passion for writing not to give up because their hard work would pay off.

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GovernmentNgugi wa Thiong’oBooksVernacular