In the republic of Ghanahas discussed about the linguistic rights and linguistic rights minorities. Thelanguage situation in Ghana is in many respects quite similar to that of otherAfrican and postcolonial contexts where multilingualism is the norm. Quitea number of languages of the world may be considered endangered. In fact, bothofficial and unofficial linguistic data from around the world seem to indicatethat in the past couple of centuries alone more than two thousand languageshave been lost to mankind. Seem to happen to the republic of Ghana as well.
As a result of the checkered historyof Africa, the majority of African countries are multilingual. But very few ofthese countries have what can be remotely described as a definite languagepolicy. This situation is not the best because a good language policy willshape the direction of language education. Political dominance and culturalforces among the causes of language shift in Africa. All of these phenomenaapply to the Ghanaian scene where English, the language of the colonialmasters, has exerted a lot of pressure on all the local languages to the extentthat a lot of children born to Ghanaians at the top of the socio-economicladder speak only English at home. For these people, at least, English is amore prestigious and, possibly, superior language to the Ghanaian ones.
The problems in Ghana are moresuperoriodinate and lack of serious. For example. First is the lack ofsecondary school teachers of African languages, especially well-trainedgraduates. ii. Little enthusiasm in the study of African languages by studentsand especially their parents because of the status and emphasis on English inmost anglophone African countries. iii.
inadequate supply of textbooks. iv.inadequate teaching resources.
v. inadequate evaluation and testing techniques,and finally for him, vi. the most significant reason why the teaching ofAfrican languages is so inadequate is because of the defects in the curriculum. The second one is the lackof Systematic Language Policies. All these and other problems not mentionedabove can be traced to the absence of well-defined and systematic languageplanning policies and their implementation, both in the pre- and post-independence eras.
The point about lack of coordination is pertinent. That iswhy there are gaps in the examining of some of the languages throughout theeducational system since there is hardly any liaison between the WAEC and theeducational institutions. That is why there is the absence of suitable textbooksince there is no provision for an annual workshop for textbook writers in thevarious languages. And that why the Bureau Ghana Languages claims that it doesnot receive suitable literature for publication from the Public.One of the reasons why we should take a new look at theteaching of Ghanaian languages in our schools is to be found in the way theselanguages are put to use by the school leavers.
Most of our first andsecond-cycle school graduates use mainly their first language that we use and probablyone other Ghanaian language in their day to day activities. English is hardlyused partly because of their low level of proficiency in it. Boadi (1971)confirms that as far as the majority of school leavers is concerned if there isany agreement about the level of attainment which they reach in English, it isthat this is low and inadequate for most ordinary purposes. If this then is theplight of the Ghanaian school leaver in the use of English, instead ofdirecting almost all energies at the teaching of English, emphasis shouldequally be placed on the good, old Ghanaian languages which will be ofimmediate and practical use to them when they leave school.
Finally, if we realise that the factthat our educational policies and programmes should reflect our national goalsand aspirations we will also realise the extent to which a serious approach tothe teaching of Ghanaian languages is of prime importance. This is because inorder that government policies such as increased productivity, decentralisation,rural development and industralization may succeed the broad masses of thepopulation of Ghana need to be involved. This can only be possible with theGhanaian languages rather than with English. So our suggestions for abetter future The answers to the many problems confronting the teaching ofGhanaian languages in schools lie in the formulation of more coherent languagespolicies.
Two types of language planning policies may be distinguished:intra-language planning and inter-language planning policies.Intra-language planning deals with the relationship betweendialects of a single language and this mostly concerns how to achieve astandard written form of a language. For effective educational material todevelop and in order to avoid having to publish the same material in thevarious dialects of a single language, measures should be taken so that in thenext five or ten years all Ghanaian languages, especially the governmentpromoted ones, have standard written forms.
Now that the Akan language for instancehas a unified orthography it is possible to set up more effective,comprehensive and uniform teaching programmes in all the schools where Akan istaught. The other language groups should also have language committees set upto take charge of standardisation and / or revision of already existingstandard forms from time to time.Inter-languageplanning grapples with what functions to assign to particular languages withina multilingual set up and is definitely a crucial issue in a multilingual countrylike Ghana where we need to decide on issues like what languages to publish in,which of them to use in the mass media and which to teach at various stages inthe educational ladder..
.. We need a definite policy statement on this. Againthere are prospects for a better future now that there seems to be a clearinsistence on the teaching of Ghanaian languages in the Junior Secondary School(J.S.
S.) system. We, however, need such policy statements beyond the J.S.
S.structure if we must advance any further. Another suggestion which, in ouropinion, is worthwhile is that literacy in certain Ghanaian languages mustimmediately be included in the requirements for certain professions in Ghana.People advertising to employ certain professionals such as journalists,publicrelations officers, broadcasters, nurses, doctors, receptionists, revenuecollectors etc.
must be made aware of the functional importance of certainGhanaian languages in certain localities. This is a fact we cannot continue toignore.For astart, since we cannot include all the Ghanaian languages in qualifyingexaminations for these professions, the nine government- sponsored languages -Akan, Dagaare, Dagbane, Dangbe, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem and Nzema – (which happento be quite well-distributed in all the ten regions of Ghana) should be taughtin the training programmes for such professions and the student required topass in one of these languages. We do not see how, for instance, journalists,public relations officers and broadcasters can function well, without beingliterate in at least one Ghanaian language, in modern day Ghanaian societywhere local FM stations and newspapers are springing up in all regions andwhere very soon the Ghanaian languages will be used in political institutionslike the District Level Assemblies. In conclusion the Ghanaian languagesconstitute an important set of the human resources of Ghana and all availablemeans must be used to tap them.
In fact, English, though admittedly aninternational language of communication can hardly replace Ghanaian languages,for they constitute the bedrock of our cultural manifestations. In the words ofChinebuah (1976) If the Ghanaian and, for that matter, the African is tohave roots in the way of life into which he is born and in which his earliestemotional and social experience have their setting,he must be taught anappreciation of the culture of his people and his native tongue in which thatculture finds its fullest expressions. Otherwise our educational system willonly succeed in producing men and women who are linguistically and thereforeculturally displaced persons.
Thislinguistic and cultural derailment can be prevented only if we take a seriouslook at the teaching of Ghanaian languages to our children by putting in placewell-defined, coherent and continuous language policies in our educationalsystem.