Many teachers and pupils struggle with education delivered in a colonial language such as English. Nigeria boasts over 500 languages, and most Nigerians are gifted linguists! They are bilingual or multilingual, using different languages in different contexts. Mixing languages during one conversation (‘code-switching’) is quite normal. This complex linguistic situation poses a challenge for basic education, as is made clear in Trudell’s 2018 British Council/UNICEF report, Language and Education in Nigeria. Substantial research (such as Okonkwo’s 2016 study and Ball’s 2010 report) stress the importance of basic education in the mother tongue or the language of the immediate environment. The benefits include:
· greater parental participation
· increased school enrolment, and
· better learning outcomes.
Once pupils are literate in a familiar language, they have a strong foundation for the transition to English-medium learning. It is in the context of such research that Mu Karanta Hausa Big Books can make a vital contribution to improving education in Nigeria.