Readers’ Response/ Opinion
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The cat is finally out of the bag
I refer to your article – ‘At Issue: Creole – Medium of Instruction & Curriculum Subject’ in the online edition of your paper. I quote: “Proponents of Creole as medium of instruction as well as a subject to be studied assert that the solution to high rate of failure at the CPE level is to be found in the utilisation of Creole as medium of instruction – not merely as support language.”
I read with great interest, every week, the news from and about Mauritius, and I am shocked and saddened to read about the downfall of our educational level. I spent all my primary/secondary education years in Mauritius and I must say how proud I am for my professional achievements thanks to the education system then prevailing in the country. I now realise that I would not be where I am today had it not been for the education that I have received then. I was moulded and educated by a very good system, which has trained me to always give the best of myself. I am equally proud to say today that the educational baggage I earned in Mauritius helped me tremendously to get through successfully at university level in London where I came out first in my Strategy Studies. I never had to repeat any classes or modules during all my school and university years and even passed Mandarin, which is not my mother tongue, during my secondary years at the LCQB. This is not meant to blow my own trumpet, but to say that commitment is the key to success be it in education or otherwise.
Given my educational background, I simply cannot relate to the proposition being made by some people that the use of Creole as medium of instruction as well as its study as a curriculum subject will actually resolve the issue of the high rate of failure at primary level. If a child cannot master French or English at school to learn Maths, languages, Geography, please explain to me how he/she will be able to master Creole to enable him/she to do so? Do we have a standard as yet with respect to the Creole language? Do we have an established dictionary for it?
Let’s now assume that the child by some miracle carries out his/her school with the Creole language in Primary and Secondary schools and by another miracle he passes his subjects now he/she decides to go to a University, what will be his/her level of education as that child or adult of tomorrow? He/she will be not equipped to study be in India (where English will be required), France, UK or Australia. The real picture is that the student will not even cope with Creole at the Primary or Secondary level and will eventually drop out from school and causing further problems to the Mauritian economy.
Mauritians should think beyond the island borders about the long term effect of implementing a Creole curriculum which makes no sense to me at all, as I believe this is being done blindly with no real study of the impact and not even solving the core problem of education. It is an illogical plan as other aspects should be looked at such as the level and calibre of the teachers and whether and how they would need to be better equipped in their roles. The so called regional education system has already been a real disaster due to the lack of analysis of the last team at the Ministry of Education, I would say let’s minimise the problems instead of increasing it further. Why not instead enforce that all students should learn one of these languages: Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese or Spanish. These are far most useful than Creole used by a tiny minority around the globe.
Just because the Creole has been introduced in church in Mauritius which to me is another catastrophe as since when did the followers of Church not understand French, why suddenly are the lobby groups so keen to introduce Creole everywhere?
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The Maha Shivratree Festival
Some minor points for all of us to bear in mind
These points have been ventilated before, but with Maha Shivratree festival approaching fast, it would help, I thought, for all of us, responsible citizens, to revisit them.
* Think about putting whatever money you wish to offer into the donation boxes instead of throwing it into the water – that would be more useful. The small coins thrown into the water add up to a substantial sum.
* After puja (rituals), it would be preferable to take away all offerings, otherwise it would decay and cause environmental degradation. Remember cleanliness is next to Godliness.
* It is preferable to go to Ganga Talao by bus in groups rather than by car. That will help reduce the problem of traffic jams which can last for up to 4 hours on a 20 km route. It will also give relief to the public and lessen stress. An appeal is made here to all bus companies for special services. The passenger capacity of one bus is about 65 passengers which is equivalent to that of 13 cars.
* Construct small size kanwars in view of reducing bottlenecks and traffic jams on roads.
* A pilgrimage is always based on discipline and sacrifice. It is not a fun walk. It’s an inner-seeking religious walk. Do not waste mental/spiritual energy.
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Shivratree should be performed in a spirit of sacrifice, otherwise it would be adharmic (religiously incorrect). Besides its religio-spiritual dimension, we should think of the sustainable dimension of Maha Shivratree.
Mauritian Creole, Identity and National Development
There seems to be some misunderstanding which should be cleared.
A pidgin becomes a Creole language when it becomes the mother tongue of a group.
In the very early days of European colonialism there was, according to scholars, a nautical pidgin/lingua-franca spoken by seafarers based in the Mediterranean. Most probably this rudimentary language was adopted and adapted by slaves and slave masters for basic communication. When children of slaves were born it became their mother tongue. Consequently it is true to say that Mauritian Creole in its earlier form was/is the ancestral language of the descendants of slaves.
The indentured labourers who arrived later adopted the language and influenced its growth in terms of phonology, grammar and vocabulary. It is not surprising that Mauritian Creole is now the mother tongue of approximately 80% of the population. The remaining 20% use it as a second language. This is why we can safely say that it is the de-facto National Language of the Republic of Mauritius.
It is to be noted here that the belief that a Creole language is a debased, corrupt form of French (broken French) is sheer nonsense. All experts agree that English, this most prestigious language, is in fact a highly developed Creole language. Who would dare call it “a debased, corrupt form of French”?
The request made by FCM to introduce Mauritian Creole as a subject in primary schools is perfectly legitimate and in no way reduces the importance of our National Language as a vital instrument of nation building. Eventually Mauritian Creole will become Morisien and will enter the curriculum as medium and language of higher studies. It’s just a question of time. Mauritian Creole as a subject at primary level will reinforce the 3 R’s, improve knowledge of grammar and allow for a smoother passage to English, the other Creole language which is our official language.