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African EduWeek literacy expert "alarmed by the adamant attitude of some African people" in opposing mother tongue education

New York professor blames technology and hip hop for literacy decline

June 24, 2014 --
DMN Newswire--2014-6-24--"I am alarmed by the adamant attitude of some African people of all walks of life in opposing literacy acquisition in the mother tongue," says Associate Professor Immaculee Harushimana, of Lehman College at the City University of New York and part of an expert panel discussion on literacy strategies at the upcoming African EduWeek in Johannesburg in July.  

She continues: "I would expect people to realize how poorly equipped elementary teachers are to impart literacy in foreign languages to children who may not have an opportunity to discover the authentic language outside of the classroom. It is simply unfair to expose young children to a language that they cannot practice at home or in the neighborhoods."  

Literacy under siege globally
The Burundi-born literacy educator adds that "I regret to state that literacy is under siege on a global scale. I am extremely concerned about the poor quality of reading and writing that I note among university students across the board, whether they are reading in their first language or not! Several factors are at the origin of the literacy decline, including technology, hip hop culture, and linguistic liberalism."  

She says "my major argument is that the proliferation and ubiquity of technology in the world has reduced young generations? interest in reading for depth and enjoying talking and writing about readings. The popularity of hypertexts has significantly reduced the intellectual curiosity as one reads. Hip hop culture is another major disruptive force when it comes to conventional literacy acquisition by new generations."

Mother tongue education
Dr Harushimana is part of a panel discussion at the upcoming African EduWeek on "best skills/practice to teach literacy in any language".

"My message is simple, loud and clear", she notes, "let us teach our children to love themselves and their heritage first before we introduce them to the languages and cultures of other people.  Let us facilitate our children the acquisition of foundational school knowledge through the language they know best?their mother tongue, like all other countries are doing! I also recognize the importance of learning the language with a global appeal, and I know first-hand that the acquisition of that language becomes easier when one masters literacy in the home language.  Mother tongue instruction and foreign language instruction should not be mutually exclusive, but rather mutually supportive."

The African EduWeek panel discussion, on Friday 11 July, will look at the various languages of instruction available in Africa and how an educator can best equip learners to excel in various subjects using literacy as the foundation. Other panellists who will share their best practice and experiences include:

? Maggie Owen Smith, Manager, Home Language Project, South Africa
? Christa van der Walt, Professor, Department of Curriculum Studies, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
? Tessa Harmse, English Teacher, HoŽrskool Grens, Centurion, South Africa

The annual African EduWeek is expected to gather some 2000 teachers and education professionals from 10-11 July at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg for an interactive conference and expo that will empower them through expert talks, introductions to classroom technology and interaction with their peers.  

African EduWeek dates and location:
Expo and conference:  10-11 July
Pre-conference: 9 July 2014
Venue:  Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa


Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone :  +27 21 700 3558
Mobile:  +27 82 562 7844
Email:  [email protected]
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Related Keywords:African EduWeek, Johannesburg, South Africa, Tanya Jackman, technology in the classroom, Intel, Andre Christian, enpowering teachers, Sandton Convention Centre, Immaculee Harushimana, literacy, mother tongue education

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