Parliament calls for policy on usage of languages

Parliament has asked the Ministry of Youth and Culture to address the issue of Rwandans who are unable to get services in Kinyarwanda because they are offered in foreign languages.

This, the legislators said, can only be addressed through the establishment of language usage in the country.

 

Some Rwandans, the lawmakers said, do not know any other language apart from the mother tongue, which is Kinyarwanda, adding that they should not be locked out of some services.

 

The issue was identified in different sectors and commercial settings including banks, insurance companies, lawmakers learnt.

 

The Chamber of Deputies made the resolution on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 while approving the report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth.

The report was about the operation and collaboration of institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Youth and Culture in order to exchange ideas on their responsibilities to promote Rwandan culture.

Parliamentarians heard that some Rwandans have to enlist support to fill a form in order to get a given service because the form is written in English or French which they do not understand.

MP Damien Nyabyenda, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth said that instructions on the use of Kinyarwanda in all institutions where people need services should be issued.

MP Pierre Claver Rwaka said the use of Kinyarwanda in the country is not proper and asked for strategies in place to preserve the mother tongue.

“Kinyarwanda is among languages which the UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – listed as being threatened by extinction. That is a concern. We should do our best to safeguard it,” he said.

Parliamentarians said that protecting the language is critical in a country’s culture and that it is the main identity for a country.

MP Nyabyenda said that Kinyarwanda as a mother tongue should be given a place it deserves in line with service delivery across the country.

“It would be better if there is a policy on the use of languages so that we protect Rwandans who do not speak other languages,” he said.

There are four official languages that are accepted by the constitution in Rwanda – including Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Kiswahili.

“Though those entities that use one language [among those recognised in the country] do not contradict the constitution, there is a need for instructions so that Kinyarwanda be included in the languages used in order to be able to access services in different institutions such as banks in Rwanda,” he said.

MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa said that there is a need for effective collaboration between the Ministry of Youth and Culture as well as that of Education on how to promote Kinyarwanda and Rwandan culture.

“It has been realised that Kinyarwanda is not effectively used in communities,” she said, indicating that for it to secure a good place in the society it should first be taught in schools in a comprehensive way.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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