19 Sep 2009

Vanuatu teachers union says govt needs to rethink language policy

10:20 am on 19 September 2009

The Vanuatu Teachers Union says most of the reforms associated with an ongoing revision of the education curriculum are good but the government needs to re-think its policy on language.

The comment comes as educationalists debate whether French should be given more prominence than English in schools, part of a policy espoused by the mainly francophone UMP Party.

At the moment parents can elect either an English-speaking or French-speaking school for their children but the Ministry of Education wants to cut costs by having tuition in both languages in all schools.

The education ministry says the proposal places more emphasis on French because of the similarities between Vanuatu's vernacular, Bislama, and English.

But the president of the Teachers Union, Wilfred Leo, says under this model English will suffer.

"What we think should be done is that the ministry should give the balance there. In example all the periods in one day or they would divide a day somehow to balance the two languages. It is a unique term if we do that but Vanuatu is in that position at the moment seeing that the constitution legislates that those two languages should be the official languages."

Wilfred Leo of the Vanuatu Teachers Union.