A National Language Policy is underway with educators working on a policy document that is geared towards the teaching of Kweyol in schools.
The specialists aim to have a draft policy for implementation ready, by next January.
According to the CAMDU Specialists, they hope to have the completed implementation plan and already formulated draft policy presented to the Government of Saint Lucia by January, 2022.
Ministry of Education officials say the National language policy is a document, which looks at the role of Kwéyòl in education. The programme is specifically directed for the primary and secondary levels to ensure that students at those levels are competent in reading, writing and speaking the Kwéyòl language, much in the same way they do standard English.
“It’s important that this language, not just for linguistic but also cultural purposes be preserved and that the literacy in this language be developed,” noted educators.
Based on research, officials are expecting that students’ literacy levels will improve since they will be able to transfer the skills developed in the first language to other languages that they will learn.
The educators add: “It also means that we must have teacher professional development and teacher certification and training, so that they can bring across or use the appropriate methodologies and present the language in a way that students will be able to understand all of their content area subjects.”
Leading up to this latter development, the Ministry of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training recently held a National Language Policy Implementation Planning Conference through the Curriculum and Materials Development Unit (CAMDU).
The online forum, which brought together professionals from across the Caribbean region, sought to get an idea of best practices and the considerations for putting an implementation plan together to ensure that Kwéyòl gets the recognition it deserves.
Curriculum Officer for English Language with CAMDU, Angel Caglin says the discussion arising from the recently held conference will help formulate that strategy, including a distinction made between a national language policy and an education language policy.
Other issues noted, was the presentation of the actual language instruction methodology and approaches being used by St. Lucia’s neighbourly French-speaking Martinican (Martinique) counterparts, both at the primary and secondary level. Notable aspects of this exercise, was the level of support available to teachers, in terms of coaches and even inspectors ensuring the language was being taught as it should.
Caglin explained that the overall aim is to improve student literacy development full circle, affording the Kwéyòl Language the same official status as the standard English dialect.
Ministry officials assert that Literacy development should always begin with the students’ first language – the native language, the home languages – and understanding the influence that Kwéyòl has had on student development of other languages.
Subsequently, the exercise will entail a development of resources, the development of content that can be used in the classroom and “of course, we can just imagine the impact that this is going to have outside of the classroom as well.”
Caglin says it is also expected that a lot of commercial opportunities will be created for the preparation of material to be used for Kwéyòl instruction within the classroom.