A sound pedagogy is based on the premise that literacy – the ability to read, write and count – should start in the mother tongue of the child and second language literacy should be built on the skills acquired in the L1 or mother tongue. Teaching basic literacy in a foreign language when L1 literacy has not yet been mastered does not yield good results and can even be catastrophic. In Mauritius, thousands of children go through their primary schooling – 6-7 years – without acquiring the basic skills of literacy because initiation to literacy is done, not in the child’s mother tongue – L1 – but in 2 or even 3 foreign languages (English, French and Hindi or Telugu or Urdu or Marathi etc.). If so-called ‘normal’ children are unable to cope with the present policy, children who are visually impaired are doubly handicapped as braille literacy is to be mastered in two foreign languages – English and French.
A proper understanding of the phonology of Mauritian (Mauritian Creole) can help us devise Mauritian braille and teachers who look after visually impaired children must also have a sound knowledge of the syntax and lexis of the mother tongue of 90% of our children.
When the basics have been mastered in Mauritian, the knowledge acquired can be transferred to the acquisition of English which is also a creole language whose grammar (syntax) is quite close to our language. Hence genuine basic bilingual braille literacy can pave the way to a vibrant bilingual braille functional literacy. At a later stage French braille may be introduced.
Should LLTF be interested, I am prepared to mount a course on the phonology, syntax and lexis of Mauritian and English for those responsible for the teaching of braille and together we will devise Mauritian braille.
The training of teachers will have to be done in my office at my place as I have health problems and cannot travel.
Please note that I am offering this service free of charge as a token of my gratitude for the work being done by LLTF and as a kind of remembrance of the work done by my aunt Ms. Nadia Pyndiah.