UNESCO director urges Nigeria to save indigenous languages from extinction




ABUJA – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), on Sunday advised Nigerians to revitalise the country’s indigenous languages to prevent them from going into extinction.

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The Regional Director of the organisation, Prof. Hassana Alidou, gave the advice while speaking at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja.

She said that languages kept both in written and oral forms could be well-preserved thus preventing them from dying off.

“It is natural phenomenon that you will have languages that are there; some will die and some will evolve.

“But of course our natural languages should be viewed as our cultural, economic, political and historical wealth.

“As long as communities are ready to use them, we should contribute to revatalising them, to using them in all aspects of life.

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“Therefore, it’s very important to know that communities which are using their languages in the oral form and in the written form are going to be communities which are going to see their language kept.“

According to her, the national policy on languages will only be effective if every community and country plays its roles in revitalising them.

“Yes, there is a national policy to promote all the languages.

“But this national policy will be only effective when speakers of the languages – community speakers of the languages – are using them in their day-to-day activities at home, in the communities, in education, and in all aspects of life.

“Of course in UNESCO, we are for linguistic diversity and, every year, we celebrate languages and we highlight endangered languages so that everything is done to save them.“

The regional director said that UNESCO encouraged the promotion and teaching of indigenous languages adding that sustaining them was solely the responsibility of the governments of member states.

She, therefore, advised national governments to develop policies to cater for the preservation of such languages.

She, however, stressed the need to maintain the country’s oral traditions. (NAN)

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