INTRODUCTION OF KREOL: A Storm in Mauritian classes ?

Wednesday 11th January 2012 : Kreol has officially been introduced in primary schools in Mauritius, as an optional language. Amidst all the pomp and fanfare, disgruntled voices managed to seep to the top and made themselves heard. This deep sense of unease has been going on for some time now, ever since the government's announcement of introducing Kreol as an optional language in the primary school curriculum.
And now that theory has given way to practice, a dark cloud is hovering over the primary schools in sunny Mauritius, brewing and spewing resentment, misunderstanding, skepticism and even anger, from some teachers, parents and other concerned stakeholders. A brief overview of online forums will give an aperçu of many people's negative reception of the introduction of Kreol in primary schools. So, why has Kreol not been welcomed by many, though it is the mother tongue of more than 70% of the population ?
Many reasons have been put forward and I'll summarise a few main ones :
1. It is a waste of time as it does not contribute to the child's academic progress, especially related to higher studies and job opportunities.
2. Kreol, not being an international or even the official language of Mauritius, is irrelevant.
3. Teachers have been trained for a short period of time and many might not be up to the standard to teach.
4. The child would be confused between French and Kreol spelling and this might penalize him/her.
5. It is used as an oral means of communication and should remain as such.
6. Literature in Kreol is quasi non-existent and the learning/teaching of Kreol is therefore pointless.

These above-mentioned reasons have unleashed passions of the highest degree but are these doubts justified ? Is Kreol really a waste of time, as such ? Is there no merit in teaching it to Mauritian students at all ?
The Minister of Education has described the implementation of the teaching of Kreol in schools as a unifying agent in bringing together all cultures. Prior to this, this has already stood true, with most Mauritians communicating with their family, friends and other acquaintances in Kreol on a daily basis.
However, it is a fact that Kreol enjoys a lesser status than French or English in Mauritius despite the majority of us speaking it. French, which dominates the spoken and written media, IS the language of prestige in our little paradise. If we go to any offices or banks or even some shops in Mauritius, most members of the staff will prefer to speak in French to members of the public, including me. It has happened that I speak in Kreol to these people and they will carry on in French, which results in quite a farcical situation, where both persons could have easily used Kreol to communicate. The introduction of Kreol, as a subject in its own right, will hopefully serve to break down the status discrepancies among the other languages, with its own dictionary and grammatical rules. It will be a long complex process but at least, people will now be forced to acknowledge that Kreol is now a language in its merit, and not just a shadowy French patois.
Furthermore, in the classroom situation, Kreol is already being used as a medium of instruction, whether it be in the primary or secondary sector. This practice has long facilitated communication and the teaching/learning process in classes. At this point, the only doubt I have is concerning the eventual introduction of instructions in Kreol in other subjects like English or Maths, as this might end up being negative interference with the learning/teaching of these subjects at secondary school level, where instructions will be in English, unless stated otherwise. Other than that, as a language of instruction for lower-achieving students, this is brilliant and should certainly be encouraged. So, Kreol as a language in it own right, might help to convince skeptics of using it as a medium of instruction, that it is not a lesser language at all.
In addition, why should we not be proud of our wonderful national legacy that is our language ? Indeed, is it not a miracle that we are among the few countries in the world, where our national language, which is relatively young, was born from the mixture of different languages, connecting people who came from different cultural and linguistic horizons ? Not everyone in Mauritius would be able to sing a Bollywood song but the overwhelming majority would sing to the tune of a rhythmic Sega. Of course, just like any other language, Kreol is dynamic and new words/expressions will need to be added to the dictionary but with the new status being conferred upon it, needless to say that it will soon go through new exciting experiences, under proper guidance. Students can be encouraged to write poems/plays/articles/short stories, participate in slamming competitions or even participate in plays in Kreol, dealing with realistic social themes. This would indeed constitute an excellent opportunity for extra-curricular activities all over the island due to the students' familiarity with the language, while remembering that Kreol is an OPTIONAL language, not a compulsory one as we speak. If the child is finding a source of self-fulfillment in the language, what more could we ask ? As it is, we are always complaining about the lack of extra-curricular activities or the rat race in the Mauritian educational sector. Kreol would greatly facilitate students' interest in such activities, especially in theatre and writing, where they would be more at ease with the language at a young age.
Kreol, as an optional language, should be given its chance to spread its wings. Unless we give it a chance, then we would not know any better. Despite all the misgivings, Kreol is the unifying language in Mauritius, transcending all barriers. Just like we are proud of our national flag, we should be proud of our national language too, despite its not having international prominence. If it could be the catalyst towards encouraging more students to participate in extra-curricular activities for a holistic development due to their familiarity with the language, then let us wait and see before reaching a premature conclusion.

Commentaires

Hi Folks,
Ki maniere, as for me Creole was my first language and will probably be my last, I may be proficient in English and not so much Francais anymore, but anytime I have been back home ( Mauritius ), Creole has been my creditential that I am indeed Mauritian, Although I have made many friends on the island of St Lucia in the Carribeen, whom most speak nearly the same dialect.

As far as being an ( not so required )optional subject in schools, I personally do not believe there could be any book, nor a dictionary that could encompass the magnitude of such a descriptive and elaborate language to say the least and if that is ment to keep the dialect alive, so be it.

Why you ask ? to keep the dialect alive..., my last visit to the Island was quite disturbing in a way !! Mauritians as a whole seemed to think that speaking Creole was beneath them and a demeaning way of approching them, even the " Marchant Roti lor so biciklet ", Creole was never ment to be in writing, that was the ultimate code of the slaves and islanders to forgo life without their patrons and rulers knowing what was and where, so make it available to the whole world and you have lost what you fought for, your INDEPENDENCE !! DON'T screw it up.

Much Respect, Marc

Dear Sir,

I read your review about your love and respect for your Language. I am from Indai. It has been hardly fews days, i am in Mauritius. I intrected with people . i feel creaol is a beautiful language. top of that, people are always comfortable in their mother tongue. thats a way of communication. I want to learn to speake in creoal. unfortunatlly not able to find any course on internet. can you help me to find out how to learn ?

Ruchi doctor
India

Le créole est une langue qui ne doit pas être sous-estimer.

Je maintiens, comme bon nombre de commentaires sur cette article, que ce n'est absolument pas en l'introduisant a des enfants de 5 0u 6 ans que cela fera l'affaire.

Il importe, et ce des l’année prochaine, de l'introduire a tous les niveaux, tertiaires y compris. quoi de mieux que des chargés de cours de l’université de Maurice parlant en créole en classe, les dissertations en créole, les examens en créole, le SC et le HSC en créole...

c'est tout aussi drôle que les progénitures du ministre même qui défend bec et ongle le créole a l’école ne savent pas parler en créole...

Pour rappel, le médium d'enseignement a l’école a toujours été le créole! donc on n'a pas découvert l'Amerique en introduisant le créole a l’école.

cela m'a tout l'air d’être un 'political move' de ce gouvernement. Je parie un million de roupies qu'ils vont utiliser ce fait dans la prochaine campagne électorale avec acharnement, comme on le dit si bien en créole, tape l'estomac zot pou dire: "nou kine introduire creole..."

pathétique les politiciens et les mauriciens qui les soutiennent dans cette démarche...

Politik Langaz
Pa tro lontan, a traver loupp bann lingwis –intelektwel, nou langaz maternel ti pe ett defini kuma “ Franse Barok” ( pidgin French)…. cetadir inferyerr en relassion avek “Le Francais” ( sori mo pa capav ferr C-cediyy lor mo vier kompyuta). Me pou nou , Morisien , avec nou bann variasyon rezional e sibkiltirel dan nou axan, vokabiler et expresyon, nou langaz finn rest nou zouti lepli pwisan dan nou sitemm kominikasyon. Et nou finn servi sa langaz la a merveyy …. dan bann moma emosionel, dan panic, dan colerr, dan tristess, dan contantma, et memm dan lamizma: fale pa blier Sega Balbobes…et lezot kuma Solda Lalit Militan! Fale pa nou blier ban gran diskour politik lor kess camion ki ti avoy Daby e Badry antrayy : rapel bann diskour , “Praan jae vachan na jae” ? Fale pa nou blier “20 Mai lane 75”, kuma kamarad Bam sante et ossi “Donn to la me Pran mo la me” sante ekrir par J.J Prosper et popilarize par bann frerr Gowree.
…E pa bizin dire ki kalite “flerr” sorti dan la bouss nou bann compatriot dan moma de koler, sirtout apre enn-de Numero 1 (romm nimero enn ) ….
Me kuma nou ti kapav predir, enn zour na pa enn zour, nou ti pou arriv lor sa la croize kot nou ete zordi, quand nou lang maternel pe “oficialize”. Sa mark enn pa swa an avan ou an aryer depann lor saki arrive apartir dela. Oficializ nou lang ve ossi dir politisiz nou lang. E dan politik kuma nou konn trebyen, ena bann group avek lintere secterr et personel. Ena ki pou rodd zott bout par esseyy inflians natir oficiel nou lang, ki finn rebatize kuma Kreol ( avec enn K capital, et parfwa avec “e” axan-t-egiyy petet pou exprimm enn sentima nostalzic ou preferansiel pour “Le Francais”). Fale pa nou sou-estimm lanpriz ki lafrancofoni fin ena, et pou continier ena lor nou comportma , nou latitidd e nou kiltir an zeneral. La francofoni ena so bann fann et bann azan partou lor lill !

Zotte dire ki bann resers pedagozic rekomann edik nou bann zenfan a traver lang maternel, cetadir dan nou ka, rann Kreol kuma enn “medium of education”. Me sa pa pareyy kuma introdwir Kreol kuma enn lang opsionel. Ena enn differans laterr-leciel dan sa de konsepp la!! Li parett ki ena sertain paran ki finn donn zott konsantma pou zott zenfan aprann Kreol ( ?? Kreol Modern) kuma enn suze optionel. Mo interesse kone ki bann mechanis et metodd ki finn servi par bann inisiaterr sa proze la et vrema lor ki bazz bann paran la finn motive. Mo lev la me ver lesiel e prier Bondie, “ mo esperer ki pa finn ena considerasyon etnik ou religion dan mizsirpie sa proze la!!!”. Parski si sa le ka, pena okenn doute nou finn ferr enn gran pa en aryer lor plizier laspe: premiema nou finn donn bann morpion ki viv lor societe divize enn kado en or, deziemema nou finn sabotaz travayy metikile ki bann penserr et edikationis “progressis” finn kumanse ferr (malgre tou bann contreintt ) depi bann deseni, troisiemema nou finn ratt enkor enn lott loportinite pou revwar nou politik ( e filozofi) ledikasyon et pou reform nou system ledikasyon avec enn bu pou promouvwar Kreol kuma enn “medium enseyma” pou tou, pa zis dan lekol ek kolez me ossi dan laprantisaz, dan developma travayerr lor sayit travayy, i-compri bann fonksyoner , dan ledikassion bann adilt, etsetera.

An seki concern bann force ki opoz litilizasyon Kreol kom dwatett nou bizin “challenge” zott ouvertma. Zott koz france ou Angle avec zott zenfan, sa zott prorogatif. Zott oule cree boarding-school pou zott zenfan, sa zott drwa. Me kan zott vinn avec bann argima ki defier lozic pedagozic nou bizin met zott o defi... Moi mo dire ki li bizin lobzektif nou peii ki dan le fitir nou ava ferr interview pou travayy en Kreol.

Gowree Brothers sant: “ met dekote kominote-
Ouver to olizie ek gett kat kote-
Lizie tou peii-
Ape veyy nou peii-
Nou bizin marse-
Lame dan lame…..

Zoli coser sa!

Moi aussi, mo esperer ki Kreol pa fine introduire lor ene base purement politik, mais pou facilite comprehension dan ban lekol et aussi couma mone dire lahaut, faire banne activities en Kreol, pou faire banne zenfants vaincre zot timidite ek affirme zot meme, si zot pa trop conne maitrise anglais ek francais.

Ek mo pa daccord ki bane dimoune considere Kreol couma ene langue inferieure. Li pas ene langue inferiure! Li ena so propre nivo complexite ek sa, bisin coummence reconnaite partout dan l'ile Maurice.

you still haven't answered the questions ( Legitimate questions, to my opinion) asked by Anonyme (non vérifié) | 25 janvier, 2012 - 21:03.

It would be good on your part to answer each and every question of his, to be fair in this debate... Thanks in advance.

Hi,

Just to let you know that the questions have been answered. Have a wonderful evening and catch up soon!

Thanks. That was so nice of you. NOW ITS A COMPLETE DEBATE.

The author of the article does not need to answer any question of any anonymous. What he has to do I believe is to express his opinion and assume what he says. I do not think also that any one from the public has to answer any anonymous...

This issue of Creole language in Primary Schools( It's good to point it out as many people don't know that it is only in primary schools that it has been introduced as an OPTIONAL subject), is a false debate.

Firstly, the question arises that why it is meant only for the Creole community in schools when Creole language is the National language of ALL Mauritians?

Secondly, why is it an OPTIONAL subject, when it should have been taught to EACH and EVERY Mauritian child obligatorily?

Thirdly, why is it being taught ONLY in primary schools, and NOT in secondary schools? Why primary schools is becoming more and more a dumping ground for politicians and less and less a place where true teaching and learning takes place?

Fourthly and finally, why the HELL is it always that Educators (formerly known as teachers) are never consulted before taking any step in the education sector?

Educators are the ones who are at the front line and they are best suited to say what is good and what is bad for children. And NOBODY NEVER GIVE A DAMN TO ASK THEIR OPINION!

It's always like ASKING A BUS DRIVER TO FLY AN AEROPLANE...

Whenever there needs to be a change in the education sector, ask the Educator FIRST and FOREMOST, then you ask the people on the street...

All Educators I've met are of the opinion that the intention is good, mais dans la forme, c'est une catastropthe!

So please, let's respect the opinion of Educators, they hell know what they are talking about...

I will finish on this quote which should make you think :

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
(Marcus Aurelius)

Hi,

I'll try to answer to your queries to the best of my ability.

Question 1: It's not meant solely for a community in particular. It's an optional language which anyone can take up, if he/she so wishes.

Question 2: When introducing new concepts, it is always best to start on a pilot basis, to fine-tune all details before making them compulsory. I guess this is what is taking place so that modifications can be carried out where necessary and other suggestions taken on board.

Question 3: I wouldn't agree that the primary schools are a dumping ground. It is always best to introduce a new language to children as young as 6, as this will make assimilation easier, compared to secondary school students. The sooner the exposure, the better it is.

Question 4: I can't comment on the veracity of this argument as I feel that somewhere, the stakeholders must have also concerned teachers who are teaching Kreol in the schools. Maybe, they will be required to produce a report of their findings after teaching Kreol for at least a term? Let's wait and see.

Thanks and catch up soon!

Hello Bhawna Atmaram,
I was wondering… with regard to your response to Question 4 (above), do you know if there has been any report/s (published by the Ministry or by MIE) about the impact and progress of the policy following the introduction of Kreol as an optional language into the school system? I would be grateful if you could share with me any published updates about this new language education policy that may have come to your attention.
My interest is primarily for academic purposes…
I am a mature student, in my 4th year of undergraduate studies, majoring in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. For my FYP (Final Year Project) I am focusing my research on how Mauritians feel about the recent introduction of Kreol into the classroom.
I am adopting a two-track approach:
•a survey of at least 200 participants drawn from a cross-section of Mauritian society.
•a number of in-depth interviews that will reflect a range of informed opinions, exploring Mauritian thinking and perspectives on this development.
In my literature review process, I have found that your several articles on this topic provided a helpful public perspective, as indeed have the many alternative views and comments left by your readers. In fact, I am wondering if you could find time in your schedule to share some of your own reflections about the range and substance of public attitudes you have encountered, particularly over the past two years since the policy was implemented. Your perspective will greatly enrich my research efforts.
I will be visiting Mauritius for a few weeks from 20 December and I would appreciative any time you could grant me for an interview, ideally sometime prior to or during the Christmas break. I am hoping to gain insights from you which will inform my survey/interviews.

Thanks for your consideration, Bhawna. Hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
Paul FitzGerald
jpflms@gmail.com
(65) 9786 4282

Hello Bhawna Atmaram,
I was wondering… with regard to your response to Question 4 (above), do you know if there has been any report/s (published by the Ministry or by MIE) about the impact and progress of the policy following the introduction of Kreol as an optional language into the school system? I would be grateful if you could share with me any published updates about this new language education policy that may have come to your attention.
My interest is primarily for academic purposes…
I am a mature student, in my 4th year of undergraduate studies, majoring in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. For my FYP (Final Year Project) I am focusing my research on how Mauritians feel about the recent introduction of Kreol into the classroom.
I am adopting a two-track approach:
•a survey of at least 200 participants drawn from a cross-section of Mauritian society.
•a number of in-depth interviews that will reflect a range of informed opinions, exploring Mauritian thinking and perspectives on this development.
In my literature review process, I have found that your several articles on this topic provided a helpful public perspective, as indeed have the many alternative views and comments left by your readers. In fact, I am wondering if you could find time in your schedule to share some of your own reflections about the range and substance of public attitudes you have encountered, particularly over the past two years since the policy was implemented. Your perspective will greatly enrich my research efforts.
I will be visiting Mauritius for a few weeks from 20 December and I would appreciative any time you could grant me for an interview, ideally sometime prior to or during the Christmas break. I am hoping to gain insights from you which will inform my survey/interviews.

Thanks for your consideration, Bhawna. Hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
Paul FitzGerald
jpflms@gmail.com
(65) 9786 4282

The author of the article does not need to answer any question of you. What you have to do I believe is to express your opinion and assume what you say. I do not think also that any one from the public has to answer you anonymous...

The author of this article did answer the questions dear TJP. That's called a 'fair'debate now. Next time, mind your own business.

I smiled at the" inckuding me" of the author. Indeed I share the expressed views. THe creole language exists and we should be happy to live at a time when we are structuring it and introducing it in schools, giving it a even higher status and we'll leave that heritage to our descendants. Long years after us Mauritians will be so happy also with the possession of a creole language that their ancestors would have supported and helped develop...

A very objective article indeed.
I am personally skeptical about Kreol being taught as a language, but as you've said, let's wait and see. However, let's hope there's no hidden political motive behind this in order to entice a section of the population which the M6 depicted as downtrodden.
On a personal note I'll add this. I master both English and French relatively well, but I don't feel ashamed at all to speak Kreol. In fact, in some places, like the MCB for example, I deliberately use Kreol.
On a more humorous tone: Will Kreol dictionaries define our hot words which are so copiously evolved even in the absence of anger?

Like any good dictionary, 'hot' words form part and parcel of it. Hehe! well, I don't think that they should figure in the syllabus, but certainly in the dictionary! Hope there won't be any outcry if that were to happen! :-)

Li ti pu interesan pu fer enn letid sosyolozik pu gete ki bann rezyon kot bann paran pe interese pu zot zanfan aprann kreol. Eski sertenn rezyon pe servi kom kobay pu get enn ku cuma sa derule apre deside si pu etann li ayer. Eski bann burzwa la sosiete , bann ki donn zot zanfan de leson pu gayn kolez rwayal, eski zot interese pu zot zanfan aprann kreol, enn dyalek ki lokalize a moris ki pena okenn porte internasynal? Kreol li pu res ene dyalek de kominikasyon par ekselans a moris et personn pa kapav dir li pa konn kreol ou li pa koz kreol. Setenn dialek interesan ki, kuma loter la pe dir, kapav servi pu inifyer lepep dan dyalog, osi dan la poezi, sanson ek pyess teat. Mo pense ki minister kiltir ti bizin ena enn lapros pli agresif dan sa domenn la. Lerla nu kapav truv developman enn kiltir morisyen. Me dapre mwa kreol bizin res enn dialek de kominikasyon plis oral ki ekri. Personelman mo sagrin bann zanfan ki pe servi kom kobay pu aprann sa sipoze lang la. Ankor enn attint a linosans bann zanfan.

Eski mo ti kav gagn 1 definision dialek? Ek mo'nn tand dir koz kreol dan Seychelles, Haiti, Antilles etc...Ti kapav don mwa inpe informasion lor sa?

Mone prend ene position neutre mais positive. Mo pas capave ecrire creole couma lemorisyen lol c certain ki mo pou fel si mo rode essayer mais mone souvent ecrire ene genre creole phonetique... Mo 100 % d'accord ki creole c ene dialek oral principalement. Li bizin garde sa caractere la... mais mo pas mind ki ena dimoune envie faire creole evoluer vers ene langage ecrit aussi...

Bhawna, I totally agree with you when you say that it should be given a chance to flourish and then we will see...but tell me something, why did you not write the article in Kreol itself?

Hi Shabana,

The simple reason I didn't write in Kreol is due to the fact that I don't master the language myself (spelling). Hopefully, once I've learnt a few basics of Kreol, I could eventually write an article in it. :-)

Français: La langue de Molière
English: La langue de Shakespeare
Créole: La langue de.....euh....qui déjà??

The fact is dear Bhawna, that the English language gave birth to Super humans like Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and the semi-God, George Orwell, Stephen King, Abraham Lincoln and so on

The French language gave us great people like Francois Mauriac, Alphonse Daudet, and closer to us, Bernandin de St Pierre, Jean Marie le Clezio( Prix Nobel de literrature) and so on.

These people are the measures and compasses of these languages...

Creole language is at millions of light years from such endeavors! We hope a Creole Novel we will get a Nobel Prize in literrature one day, BUT it is certainly not by selling a few dictionaries ... and teaching it to 5 year old kids that we are going to see that day...

Vous ne faites que reproduire le complexe des anciens coloniises! Pour vous le monde commence et s'arrete a l'Europe. Le debat autour du morisen est faussé.

Live and let live... Even English as a written language started somewhere... there were the painful beginnings... Rome was not built in one day... same aqs setting human foot on the moon... No one is forcing anyone to learn to write creole ...

Kreol is an optional language, not forced upon by anybody. I agree that internationally, it doesn't enjoy any status as such. However, as discussed in my article, it can still be the platform for other co-curricular activities, especially concerning low achievers.

Low achievers..??, what a low life form you are, you believe being proficient in English gives you the right to be a condecending moron, you are politically and racially driven, which makes me believe that you think you are a higher being, for your comment, you should be placed in a " LATRINE ", Couion...

Indeed Bhawna Atmaram, pushing up a language in itself is an honorable task... let's go at it if we wish and should others be willing to do so let's welcome their efforts.