The 11th PALFA 2019 Conference: The Role of Mother Tongue

The 11th PALFA 2019 conference held at Kampala Serena hotel with the theme: Literacy: A bridge to Equity.

The conference was officially launched by Hon.Rosemary Seninde: Minister of State for Primary Education. Some of the partners of the conference include Ministry of education and sports, GEMS, NSSF, Twaweza, MK Publishers, The New Vision, UCC, URSB, World Vision, Stanbic Bank, NEMA, Fountain Publishers, CODE, International Literacy Association, Mango Tree Literacy Lab, and Bosasy Logistics.

Hon.Rosemary Seninde speaking during the conference.

Presenters during the conference hailed from over 40 different countries in Africa and elsewhere.

The day`s keynote speaker was Dr. Robinah Kyeyune a senior education professional with a rich background in language education, and equipped with exposure in the wider educational context of policy and development work on national level and profession dialogue at an international scale.

Later delegates were divided into parallel sessions covering topics like role of mother tongue, literacy for equity outside the frame work, early childhood teaching and learning, rethinking literacy and inclusion, Gender and Sustainable literacy.

I will focus deeply on the role of mother tongue which was chaired by Tonya Sprank and Lydia Tree with case studies from Congo, Kabale and Nigeria.

The term mother tongue emanates from the notion that a linguistic skill of a child is refined by the mother since children, on average, spend more time with their mothers.

It’s important to know that learning begins at home in the learner`s home language and when learners acquire a new language, there are possible similarities in vowels and therefore the other language is easy to understand. This is referred to as transfer literacy.

One of the session presenters quoted Nelson Mandela,“ If you talk to a man in the language he understands, it goes to his head, but if you talk to him in his mother tongue that goes to his heart.’’

Mother tongue facilitates learning. It is a child`s basis for social identity and also the medium of learning/social interaction in schools and society.

Parents are crucial in helping children learn their mother tongue as well as building and bridging the gap in literacy.

Margaret Nankinga suggested that mother tongue should not be cut off after primary three. They should be maintained. When children are being weaned by their mothers, they don`t cut them off suddenly, they take measures day in and day out to wean them until they eventually stop breast feeding. The same approach should be taken for the mother tongue. It should n`t be done informally in schools. Children need to be able to attain certain proficiency both in mother tongue and English while in school.

In conclusion, mother tongue and parental participation are highly related. Sign language is the mother tongue for the deaf and parents of these children ought to be taught sign language in order to help their children. This will help in achieving meaningful literacy.

Group photo of all delegates

Did your mother tongue help you grasp things better in the school environment?Join me in this discussion by leaving a comment below.

Follow Reading Association of Uganda on Facebook Twitter


5 thoughts on “The 11th PALFA 2019 Conference: The Role of Mother Tongue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s