From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Manhyia Palace .
Lady Julia Osei-Tutu, wife of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has expressed worry about the tendency that Ghana might lose her languages and culture in the face of globalisation.
According to her, we are in a modern situation, where our local languages and culture are in danger of becoming extinct in future, as more emphasis is put on the erroneous belief that languages are not important.
She opined that somehow, in our quest as a country to become part of this global village, we seem to be throwing a lot of our culture and things that belong to us away, not realising the harm we are causing to ourselves and humanity.
Speaking at the 19th edition of the Spelling B Competition, under the theme:” Multilingualism: a sine qua non for improving literacy in Children,” Lady Julia admonished Ghanaian parents and guardians to encourage the monolingual among their wards, since it will stimulate their minds.
“As parents, the decision as to whether your child should or should not be introduced to a certain language can be a daunting one, in that many questions come into play in trying to navigate our children to early childhood development, hoping to make the best decision,” the wife of the Asante Monarch noted.
“This is something that we should all fight against. Both languages, the local and the foreign language, should go hand in hand and should be introduced as early as possible,” she said.
Backing her claims, she argued that, per scientific studies, these will actually enable them to make more friends from different locations and communities, with greater opportunity to develop.
She urged parents not to shy away from introducing both our local language and a foreign language at a very early stage.
Lady Julia congratulated 12-year-old Shifa Amankwa-Gabbey, reigning Ghanaian Spelling Bee champion, for making Ghana and the Ashanti Region proud.
The Country Director of Young Education Foundation, Mrs. Eugenia Tachie-Menson, expressed worry about the over-reliance of the Ghanaian populace on foreign languages as their mother tongue, a development, he said, has seen Ghanaian culture fading.
She pleaded with parents and educators to refrain from speaking English with their children, no matter how funny that might be, because the practice contributes to eroding our culture. “We look ridiculous when we stand in front of non-Ghanaians and say that my first language is English, when they are not English.”
Mrs. Tachie-Menson bemoaned that accessing children for the Spelling Bee in Ashanti Region has been problematic, be it schools, parents and guardians.
According to her, schools have been telling them that their students cannot partake in the exercise because they are focusing on their studies, no matter how much they try to convince the stakeholders.
Mrs. Tachie-Menson indicated that Spelling Bee should not be limited to the club level, where those who wish to participate have to join, stressing that every child must be exposed to it.
The Country Director of Young Education Foundation thanked Lady Julia Osei-Tutu and the Otumfuo Education Fund for hosting the launch, which is the first time in Kumasi.
She thanked heads of schools and teachers for their commitment, and noted that multilingual figures are of good standing in society, citing, Lady Julia Osei Tutu II, President Akufo-Addo, Shifa Amankwa-Gabbey, and the late Busumuru Kofi Annan, as prime examples.