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Thank you Right Hon. Speaker for the opportunity to present this important statement on the problems confronting the promotion and development of the Nzema Language.

Mr. Speaker, the Nzema language is one of the 11 local languages in the curriculum of the Basic and Senior High School levels. The language is examinable at both the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) levels organised by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). It is also one of the languages studied at the University of Education Winneba, Ajumako campus. Scholars who have passed through this institution and other reputable Universities in Ghana and abroad have researched extensively into the language and have produced a lot of research materials and publications. This shows that the language does not lack Literature which is a plus for a developed language.

Mr. Speaker, It is a matter of worry worth noting that despite the high level of development of the language, interest in the teaching and learning of the language in our educational institutions is waning drastically. Consequently, students who study Nzema as an elective subject at the SHS level keep on reducing over the years.

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons that has resulted in disinterest in the learning of the language is the lack of qualified teachers of Nzema at the basic level which is the foundation-building stage in the language learning process. Things are not working. The University of Education, Ajumako campus, produces only a handful of qualified graduates in the language every year which is not enough for the numerous schools. Even the few graduates who pass out have not been employed and are at home.

Another key reason, Mr. Speaker, is that, apart from the few products who graduate from Ajumako, there are no products of the Nzema language from the Colleges of Education. These are products that are supposed to teach the language effectively at the basic level. Though Nzema is the major Ghanaian language studied at the basic level in the Western Region, it is not included in the curriculum of the three Colleges of Education in the Western region. As a result, Nzema students who desire to study the language in any of these institutions are compelled to study either Mfantse or Twi at the expense of their preferred Nzema. The lack of teachers to teach the language at the basic level has generally affected the performance of the schools. This poor performance at the basic level has caused a lack of interest and confidence in the students to pursue the language at the SHS level.

Mr. Speaker, the Bureau of Ghana Languages which is currently an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts was established and mandated to promote the development of Ghanaian languages as language is paramount in exhibiting our rich cultures. Nzema is among the 12 languages that operate at the agency. Apart from its mandate of publishing reading materials for schools and general readership in various languages, the staff are also responsible for the translation of government policies for the reading public in the Ghanaian languages. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the BGL is facing official neglect and is not functioning effectively as expected. The Ga, Akuapem, Mfantse and Nzema sections are not functioning for a lack of staff to man them. The neglect is defeating the mandate for which BGL was established; the Development of indigenous languages.

Mr. Speaker, to ensure the development and orthographic control of the various languages, the BGL set up Language Committees for this purpose. Language Committees ensure standardization in the languages towards their development. Regrettably, these Committees have not been functioning for over a decade due to financial constraints. It is noteworthy that it is only the Nzema Language Committee which is struggling to function through the sacrifices and commitment of its members to meet its mandate.

Mr. Speaker, given the issues enumerated above, I and the other two Members of Parliament from Evalue Ajomoro Dwira and Jomoro constituencies together with the chiefs, elders, the Nzema Language Committee and other relevant stakeholders are concerned about the state of the Nzema language, and therefore make the following recommendations for the consideration of the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts:

The Nzema Language should be included in the curriculum of Colleges of Education in the Western Region to train teachers of Nzema for Nzema schools.

The non-employment of Nzema language graduates to teach the language extensively at the Basic and Senior High School levels should be addressed.

Teachers of the Nzema language should be posted to Nzema schools where they can teach the local language effectively instead of posting them to non-Nzema areas and vice versa.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, the mother Ministry of BGL should staff the Ga, Akuapem, Mfantse and Nzema sections of the Agency to provide the needed language services.

The Language Committees should be resourced adequately to be functional to meet their mandates.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.

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