Teach in Tok Pisin and English

Letters, Normal

The National, Wednesday 29th August, 2012

Tok Pisin is recognised as one of PNG’s national languages.
So why not use it to teach it in schools?
At the moment, the Tok Pisin currency is higher than English or Motu in PNG.
You will see that in many parts of the country, English is confined to classrooms and offices, while Motu is dying out.
However, Tok Pisin, though considered a social language, is emerging as the language of business.
Many people prefer to use Tok Pisin than English in markets, offices and during important social ga­therings.
This is because the par­ti­cipants are mostly Tok Pi­sin users.
In schools, the majority of children only use English when they are in the classrooms.
As soon as they are outside, they use Tok Pisin to interact and this is one trend that is hard to change.
We cannot deny that the majority of young Papua New Guineans are Tok Pi­sin users too.
If the Chinese can learn Mandarin and English, the Malaysians can learn Bahasa and English, and still become successful, so what is wrong with using Tok Pisin?
Let us not dwell in the colonial box, where those using English were consi­dered superior.
Open up and make Tok Pisin a way forward.
It is about time education reformists, policy makers and other stakeholders address this issue.
One suggestion is that like English, Tok Pisin should be made a subject of its own and taught in all le­vels of the school systems.
This is not only to broaden learning and employment opportunities, but to also allow young Papua New Guineans to enjoy freedom of expression.

Patrick Babaka
Port Moresby