Abuja — Mrs Dayo Keshi, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has called on parents and schools to encourage speaking of mother language by speaking it to their children all the times.
Keshi made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, as Nigeria joins the world to celebrate International Mother Language Day on February 21.
The Day was proclaimed by the general conference of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.
This year's International Mother Language Day was celebrated under the theme: "Quality education, languages of instruction and learning outcomes".
Keshi said that the challenge of speaking the local languages was an elite problem.
According to her, parents do not speak to their children in their local languages, adding that "English is the only language used to teach students in our schools."
"In China, they use their mother tongue to teach their students in school.
"If children are not taught how to speak their local language; it may be very difficult for them to cope when they grow older.
"When children are deprived of learning how to speak their mother tongues, they would not be balanced intellectually,
"Parents and school should keep the expression of mother tongue alive because it gives the children sense of belonging and for them to identify with their roots," she said.
Meanwhile, some experts called on the Federal Government to create policy on language orientation for youths in the country to encourage them to speak in their native languages.
Mr Kanayo Chukwuemezi, the President of African Arts and Cultural Heritage Association decried that the mother language was going extinct, adding "government has to respond fast on the issue."
"Most of our youths today cannot speak their mother tongue; the only language the know how to speak is English and it is not good for the future of our identity.
" The government should bring out policy that should make it mandatory to learn and pass a subject in any of our languages in our primary and secondary schools.
"It will encourage our youths to speak our mother tongues; also parents at home should help by speaking their own language with their children on a regular basis," he said.
Mr Emmanuel Okon, the President of Culture and Tourism Youth Organisation said that the rate at which the nation's mother tongue was handled, it would be lost in no distance time.
He said that mother tongue was the only identity that separates "us from other people; it made us unique and special.
"English Language is not from us, it was imposed on us by our colonial master; we cannot afford to allow it take over our original language.
"The English people are the owners of English language; we have ours and are suppose to be proud of it.
"Government should establish policies and programmes either through ministry of education or other mediums to make sure that our children learn our mother tongue," he said.