The challenges of a language policy for the Island of San Andres
There are several opposing positions between the local authorities which direct bilingual education in the Island and the Raizal community which seek to protect Creole, their native language.Bogotá D. C., 16 de agosto de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
The Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Caribbean campus worked on designing a language policy for the archipelago and submitted it to the government back in 2013. Although it was included in the Development Plan for the island, the actions to be implemented are still unknown.
According to UNal Professor Raquel Sanmiguel to build the guidelines part of the policy they established a participative program by inquiring with the community and several sectors of the island, including the Island of Providencia.
Creole is the English based native language previously identified as such by prior research, including some of UNal as the native language of the Raizal community.
The opposing sides on the island are between those which direct bilingual education and external agents, such as academia, which seek to protect and safeguard Creole and the right of school age children to have Creole as their native language.
The language policy proposes different education options, including trilingual schools to teach the three languages (Creole, English and Spanish); schools that teach intensively English as another course or bilingual schools which teaches English and Spanish so parents can choose what language they want for their children.
San Andres does not have enough Creole teachers in different levels. This hinders a complete change and that all schools can become trilingual. This is the ultimate goal of the native Raizal community, organized around vindication battles for their territory, language and their rights in general.
“Due to the aforementioned they have not advanced on the need, that for instance, education includes the language systematically to guarantee student learning. There are opposing positions between those in local government and what the policy suggests,” said Sanmiguel.
Despite this, Creole is a vital language among natives. Furthermore it is spoken by the great majority of the inhabitants of the region and children learn it in playgrounds and streets where it is always present.
According to a UNal study, in Providencia, Creole could help as a transition towards English and Spanish and to teach it in schools they need to have an educational model.
The policy is directed to several sectors including the institutional, the community and academia. Among the proposals to protect the language is to create a formal institution devoted to research and safeguard Creole.
Also to rescue the original names of several areas of the island and demand institutional care for the native language.
“We need to teach people to open formal attention spaces in institutions to support local research because there is much to protect,” she said.
The debate is still open and UNal hopes to contribute in implementing this policy. The goal is to recover the original language to empower the territory and preserve its identity. On the other hand, recognize the multiculturalism and plurilingualism character of the territory which could help mobilize polarizing positions.
“We need to recognize we have plurilingualism in the territory and take advantage of this. We do not need to discuss if one language is more important than another, they are all relevant and the fact that people speak one or more languages is a basic communicational capability to relate with other people,” said Sanmiguel.(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/APBL