8 January 2019

Ghana: Bureau of Ghana Languages Owes Printing Firms Gh¢0.3 Million

The Bureau of Ghana Languages (BGL) is indebted to the tune of over GH¢300,000 being monies owed printing firms since 2015.

This is as a result of insufficient budgetary allocations to the agency over the years, thereby undermining the BGL's mandate to translate government policies into local languages.

The acting director of the BGL, Peter Essien in an interview with the Ghanaian Times last Friday indicated that apart from the annual budget, the bureau has since 2008 not been able to translate any official government document into local languages due to lack of funds.

The situation, he said, did not only pertain to national policies but affected the translation of educational materials into the approved local languages undertaken in the various schools.

"Apart from the budget, we have been unable to translate any government document. We used to translate public address of then President John Agyekum Kufour but after his era, that opportunity seized.Though we have in recent times written to the Information and Gender Ministries to allow us translate some of their documents, it is yet to receive approval.

"For some time now, we have not been able to even print some of our needed materials selected by West African Examination Council (WAEC) for teaching and learning in the schools and it has given room for pirates to replicate our books and make money behind us," he lamented.

According to Mr Essien, though an operation undertaken last year led to the arrest of four pirates, "it remains a big problem for us" as the Bureau loses huge revenue for the crime and the "little internally generated funds we manage to get is also not retained but paid into government coffers so we don't have funds to push our work."

The issue of understaffing was also another major challenge facing the Bureau threatening the preservation of Ghanaian languages in the country.

At present, the Akuapem Twi section of the BGL in both the Southern and Northern sectors of the country is vacant as sections like the Dagari, Dagbani and Kassen has one officer each to do translations, a situation the director described as "woefully inadequate".

"We deal in about 11 Ghanaian languages including Akuapem Twi, Fante, Asante Twi, Ga, Ewe, Ga-Adamgbe, Dagari, Dagbani, Nzema, Gonja and Kassen but currently we have only 27 staff across the country when ideally each language section should have about 11 officers.

As at now, we have no officer for Akuapem Twi and until last year that we recruited four people, we had only one officer for the Northern languages section for close to nine years," he pointed out.

Mr Essien however mentioned that its mother institution, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts was making efforts to address some of the Bureau's challenges though he wished the reality sets in sooner than later.

"All we please for is that government and corporate institutions alike assist us in funding and resourcing our staff strength so we can do our without any hindrance because our languages are the core of our culture and identity as Ghanaians."

He further urged Ghanaians to be proud of their native languages to spur development, stressing that, "a nation without a language is non-existent. When you lose your language, you lose your identity so let us protect them, speak them and teach the younger ones as well."


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