Here is a question from this year’s CPE examination, as reproduced in the Press (15 October):
“3(a) What is the name given to objects that do not produce shadows in the presence of light?”
This question shows that the person writing it, and those who checked it, vetted it, OK’d it, and those who are responsible and are still not criticizing it publicly, do not understand the science. The reason that these pedagogues, the top ones of the country, no doubt brilliant men and women, do not understand the science properly and instinctively is that they are, themselves, victims of Mauritius’ language policy in schools. Because the mother tongue was suppressed when the pedagogues were at school, the Cognitive/Academic Language Proficiency* that we all develop at school, is harmed, and this harm can go on for years afterwards into adult life. Suppressing the mother tongue in schools interferes with our natural, instinctive, high-level thinking that we acquire and develop first in the mother tongue only. The good news is that, once acquired in the mother tongue, then later, at, say, secondary or tertiary level, this proficiency gets transferred quite easily into other languages, at equally high level. And if the harm is already done by a policy that suppresses the mother tongue, then recovery from the harm is estimated to take some 7 years after the end of secondary education.
 Now, to the question: “What is the name given to objects that do not produce shadows in the presence of light?”
There is no scientific answer to this question. Not one that we can think of, anyway.
So, let us give a humourous glance at what a child could conceivably get half-marks for?
1. Perhaps, one could award half-marks for an answer like “Rita” or “Kevin”; these are at least given names, or “names given”. But then again, they are not “objects”. Maybe we could award a given name like “Mount Everest” or the “North Pole”. The North Pole, come to think of it would not produce a shadow in the presence of light?” So maybe that could get nearly full marks, some docked for it being in the singular.
2. Or, given that we are presumably looking for a concrete “noun” – the name of an object must surely be a noun – perhaps the answer is “obelisk”, assuming that the source of the light, which the object is in the “presence” of, is directly above it, midday, midsummer, and that the obelisk is very straight, and placed on very flat ground situated not too far north or south on the globe, for example.
3. Maybe “the sun” and “the stars” is the correct answer. They are objects that do not produce shadows in the presence, at least, of their own light.
4. Or is the answer is “sources of light”, but then again that is not “objects” to which a “name” has been “given”.
5. The best answer would probably be “Bolom Lake Sunga” or, better still, the truly shadowless “Minis Prins”.
6. But, what answer is the MES expecting? Are they expecting an adjective, not an object at all, but a property? Perhaps the word “transparent”? If so, from a science point of view, is it not a bit too “easy” for CPE-age children?
Of course, the CPE science subject, under present archaic language policy, always produces this kind of dilemma: the science is too easy, but the foreign language the pedagogues put the science in is too difficult for a child of that age. So, children have to learn science that is too easy for their age off-by-heart because there is no other way in a language that is, to them at least, dead. So, what children should be understanding, or deducing by reasoning, they are reproducing like parrots. And this process of rote-learning affects us all for years and years after school. It leaves traces, even once we, ourselves, grow up.
It is a very serious problem.
And the problem is policy.
And policy is politics.
This is why, in the context of the present elections, we put this important point in LALIT’s ongoing political program, and in our electoral manifesto, the need to introduce mother-tongue based multilingual education. It is urgent. Not just as a policy choice, but as a way of stopping the harm we ourselves suffered being perpetrated upon our own children.