Monday, February 22, 2010

Who wants to learn creole?

We are in the middle of some major torments in our local educational sector. One of the big buzz of the moment is the introduction of  the Mauritian 'Creole' as a subject in our school curriculum. We can hear/read debates almost everyday on our radio stations and newspapers.
The first part of the debate, which finally was not debated as almost everybody agreed on the matter, consisted of the making use of Creole as a medium to teach in schools. Though officially it should not be the case, both primary and secondary teachers have been using creole as a medium to instruct in their classrooms since always. I wonder why the FCM (Federation Creoles Mauriciens) claimed that the introduction of creole could reduce rate of failures.
As a witness of that system I think there's nothing more logical than to teach a learner in his own mother tongue. Mathematics and Science subjects cannot be taught in a languages that a learner hasn't properly grasped we all agree.

"If the Chinese spoke English they would have conquered the world already by now."

But what is totally irrational in my opinion (and of many others too) is having Creole as taught subject in schools.
If someone could be tell me how this is going to benefit someone or the country please don't hesitate! Last week I read from somewhere that Mauritius is the only country where English is losing ground. Needless to stress on the ways English language breaks down economic barriers within countries. If the Chinese spoke English they would have conquered the world already by now.

Lets say we have accepted Creole  in our curriculum. Creole and French being highly linked we will be confused when writing in both languages. This will result in higher failure rates in both subjects. Writing the following sentence in French: "Il faut BWAR beaucoup d'eau" is definitely wrong. But writing in Creole: " Bizin boire de lo" can be wrong too because here the word 'boire' is French-written. Poor student.
Creole being an ever-mutating language, I find it hard to standardize words, grammar an expressions. Different populations from different regions and backgrounds speak differently.
Consider the following essay of this guy from the suburbs: 

"En zourner bord la mer.
Moi ek en de melar decide pou dessan bord la plaz pou kass en yen. Sa zour la soleil p crass difer mover kaliter. Mo pass bazar mo tap en dipain ek so gato pima pou nu manzer la zourner. La boisson mo camouad Zorz pou amener. Dresser partou."

I stop here. FCM please correct this.

If the country needs to move forward we should instead accentuate on other languages which will permit us to communicate more efficiently with foreign countries. It has been brought to my attention that mandarin is gaining popularity in schools. Do you know why? Well learning mandarin will enable us to do business with China and this will prove profitable to the country of course. Learn Hindi, learn Mandarin, learn Italian.
Being a small island in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius's dependency on developed countries is very high and we should double our efforts to commerce with those countries.

Where will Creole lead us? Which job are we gonna get with Creole at A-level? What further studies can we expect after that?
I asked my friends from the Creole community about their views. Well most of them speak French with their children at home. Some send their kids to private English-medium or French schools.
This minority who are fighting an absurd battle in reality haven't even identified at all the root problem.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Web - Learning Relationship

The moment someone connects to the web he starts learning! It has been found that although not specifically designed for learning, web applications are used to empower learners and create unprecedent learning opportunities. As computer technology becomes less frightening to larger numbers of people, the number of surfers/learners grow. The internet technology, a decade ago, had direct impact on commerce, media and business in general but little coverage on education. Things have changed now. Teachers more and more explore the potential web tools such as blogs, social networking services, media tools, feeds etc to enhance education and create new learning experiences. This is where you will find guys like Avinash Oojorah and myself unleashing our Elearning superpowers to make this change happen in Mauritius :))

However, an informal survey conducted with a few secondary school teachers in Mauritius reveals the latter do not make or make very litte use of technology to make students learn. The most famous tools used being Email and PowerPoint. But in 2010  students in our country expect much more than that. Many spend most of their free time online: social networking, chatting and exploring the web. Having them to learn within that time frame without being offline is the challenge for many educators nowadays.
Waiting for the next generation of teachers who will most probably make more use of  IT to instruct is definitely too far away. Thats why it is essential to act now to stop the widening gap between the way Mauritian students acquire knowledge and those from developed countries