By Olivia Nnorom
With research by reputable global institutions showing that people, especially youths, learn better and faster when taught in their home language, GetBundi, an educational technology platform, has incorporated Nigerian Pidgin as a major language of instruction for some of its Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) skills.
The platform announced this on 1st December 2022 after it went live with its online STEM and Digital Skills Centre with the launch of its dedicated web and mobile app versions.
Osita Oparaugo, founder of GetBundi, said the decision to run some of the digital skills courses in Pidgin English came after reading the conclusion of studies by the World Bank, UNESCO and others that using a language of instruction closest to the people matters a lot especially for learning foundational skills.
“In a research paper published by Yew Chong Soh, an economist at the World Bank Group, Ximena Del Carpio, practice manager at the World Bank, and Choon Wang, a lecturer at Monash University, the authors, while acknowledging the undeniable advantages of multilingualism, reinforced the need to use a language of instruction that is familiar to children (and teachers) when teaching foundational skills,” Oparaugo said.
He said the paper, which focused on a language policy change in Malaysia, found that students performed worse in Mathematics and Science tests after the language of instruction in these subjects was switched from Bahasa Malaysia to English between their primary and secondary school years.
“According to the authors, the impact of learning Mathematics and Science in English, a non-native language, throughout primary and secondary school years was even more negative as boys performed worse than girls across the board. The authors concluded that children learning in their native languages develop their core skills better,” he said.
Oparaugo also cited India, a country known globally as an ICT powerhouse, where, propelled by the understanding that teaching in a native language can help more people understand concepts better, there has been a movement to explain technology in local languages like Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, etc.
“This is why we are delivering some of our digital skills courses, such as Video Editing, Coding, Graphics, Cinematography, Digital Marketing, Cyber Security, etc in Pidgin English. We believe that Pidgin would be the game changer that would fast-track the achievement of our ‘GetBundi VISION 2032′, where we are targeting to equip 10 million Africans in 10 years with 21st-century skills that will make them instantly employable,” he said.
Speaking on the choice of Pidgin instead of other indigenous languages, Oparaugo said it is the most widely spoken language in Nigeria that is understood by most people even within some West African countries.
“Nigeria for example has roughly 300 indigenous languages which are not mutually intelligible. Pidgin is a common language used throughout the country and it is able to break the barrier of communication among the different ethnic groups,” he said.
As an African product, he confirmed that in its further content developments, GetBundi would offer digital courses in over 11 major languages indigenous to sub-Saharan Africans.
GetBundi MVP, launched in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, in June 2022, is designed to deliver high quality, engaging and accessible STEM courses focused on six years of post-primary education as well as digital skills courses for everyone. The platform secured approval from the Imo State Ministry of Education on 31st October, 2022 for the establishment and operation of its STEM and digital skills centre, and went live with its dedicated web and mobile app versions on 1st December 2022.
GetBundi has a vision to up-skill, through its STEM and digital skills centre, 10 million Africans by 2032 and beyond in order to create an inclusive sustainable development driven by technology.