Use of “vosa-vakabau” affects iTaukei’s mother tongue

February 22, 2024 6:26 am

One of the major contributing factors to iTaukei’s inability to become multilingual speakers or to speak their mother tongue is the continuous use of ‘vosa vakaviti raraba,’ or common iTaukei dialect, alongside English.

This was highlighted by iTaukei linguist Sekove Bigitibau during the International Mother Language Day celebration, stressing the need for its implementation in schools and for parents to use it with their children at home.

Globally, only about three percent of people can speak their mother tongue, and teaching your mother tongue and your own dialect begins at home.

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“The majority of our mother tongue is lost because it has not been used by owners. It’s now a collective responsibility for it to be implemented in schools, and I’m thankful that the majority of the schools are still using the native language because the teachers are either from that village or elders are taking ownership of making it compulsory.”

Minister for iTaukei Affairs Ifereimi Vasu adds that the Denarau declaration has also included the teaching of mother tongue language in the school curriculum.

“The Ministry believes that including it in the curriculum will make a huge impact because it’s best to teach the children from a young age, so that way it will allow us to move forward and bring the proper mother tongue back to life.”

It’s not only the iTaukei, but the people of Rotuma who are facing similar challenges, but they are fortunate that all our children growing up in Rotuma are taught the Rotuman language in school from primary to secondary.

The International Mother Language Day celebrations continue today at the St. Stevens Building in Suva with the theme Using technology for multilingual learning: challenges and opportunities.