Owerri – The Imo House of Assembly on Tuesday approved a bill seeking the compulsory teaching and learning of Igbo language in nursery, primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions in the state.
The bill also called for the establishment of an agency to enforce, promote and regulate the enforcement of the law.
It was initiated by, Mr Donatus Onuigwe (APC), the member representing Oru East state constituency.
During the second reading of the bill, Onuigwe expressed regret that Igbo language, in spite of being one of the three major languages spoken in the country, was gradually going extinct.
According to him, the language is being relegated to the background in favour of English language with many children of Igbo extraction unable to speak the language.
The lawmaker also complained that French had been made compulsory for first year students of tertiary institutions in the state while Igbo language was not offered.
“There is the need to reinvigorate the language by making it compulsory in schools.
“There should also be debates and essay competitions in schools to promote the language,” he said.
Supporting the motion, the member representing Ideato South state constituency, Mr Ikechukwu Amuka (APC), said that every effort to promote Igbo language should be supported.
He explained that the identity of any tribe was their language and as such, Igbo as an indigenous language, should be made compulsory in schools in the South-East.
Amuka said that this would promote the cultural heritage of the Igbo nation and called on all South-East Houses of Assembly to also pass similar bills into law.
The Speaker of the House, Mr Iheanacho Ihim (Okigwe APC), moved the bill to committee stage, following a unanimous vote in its support.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the assembly on May 10, 2016. (NAN)