For Mr. & Mrs. P.M who successfully put into practice the main tenet developed in this paper. Their adopted son has been saved.


Primary schooling became free and accessible in 1954 and secondary schooling was made free for all in 1976. Yet less than 30% of our population can read, write and count. Over 70% are either semiliterate or downright non-literate and non-numerate.
Literacy does not mean being able to draw your name on a piece of paper or recognising the figures 0-9 to use a mobile phone. If you can write a few well-punctuated and grammatically-correct sentences about yourself, in the language of your choice, then you may be considered as one who has mastered basic literacy but to be functionally literate you must have “… the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” ( https://gaml.uis.unesco.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/12/4.6.1_07_4.6-defining-literacy.pdf )
In the Republic of Mauritius, official figures on literacy cannot be trusted for there is a deliberate policy to hide the truth by defining literacy as ‘SCHOOLING’. Only about a quarter of our children manage to acquire basic literacy skills after 6 years of schooling. The official pass rate cannot be trusted for several reasons:
• The pass mark is in the neighbourhood of 30 marks after standardisation. Raw marks are lower and 20 marks may become 30-35 after standardisation.
• Multiple choice questions and one-word-answer questions carry 50 marks. It must be borne in mind that by just throwing the dart or by making a good guess, candidates may score up to 20 marks.
• A very great number of candidates are unable to tackle open-ended questions, sentence and essay writing.


Certainly not! An absurd language policy is the main reason why our children find the school environment alien and hostile. Our narrow-minded, blind, timorous and self-seeking political leaders from all quarters have so far failed to understand the meaning of ‘mother tongue’ which should not be confused with ‘ancestral language’. They should read the works of Alfred Thomatis and Stanislas Dehaene to understand the importance of our mother tongue in the development of our brain. Worse still is the fact that they think that Mauritian (the most suitable name for Mauritian Creole, the first language, L1, of 90% of the population and the second language, L2, of the remaining 10%) is a corrupt form of French – broken French. They do neither know what a creole language is nor do they know that English is a creole language. Moreover, they confuse the term ‘medium of instruction’ with languages taught as subjects. The absence of the right initial medium of instruction is responsible for the disastrous situation our system of education is facing.
What a shame! In a recent past, it has been clearly shown that the right language policy can yield spectacular results. 200 young boys and girls who had flunked the then CPE twice, were given a special course based on mother tongue literacy and, 3 years later, over 150 of them passed the National Certificate of Education (NCE) and most of them today are skilled workers and literate citizens.


As a result of evolution, the creature called ‘Homo sapiens’ is genetically programmed to use language orally and in their (his or her) brain there is an area responsible for this faculty, known as Broca’s area. But nowhere is there an area for the production and use of literacy which is realised when a person manages to build, in their (her or his) brain, a bridge between their Broca’s area and their visual fields. In other words, learning to speak a language comes naturally but learning to read and write your L1 is an arduous task requiring much effort and support from parents and teachers. Imagine the difficulty of our children who are asked to master literacy in 2 or 3 foreign languages (in English, French and an ancestral language) while their L1 is ignored. Add to this, the fact that in over 75% of cases, parental support is totally absent. Are our children failures? Or should we blame a system that is torturing our children and preventing them from developing their full potentials.


Let us not look for scapegoats! We all have our share of responsibility. Parents also are to blame. Being able to have children is, in most cases, quite natural and straight forward but looking after them is quite another business. Are adults aware of problems to be faced and are they prepared to learn or do they think that there is nothing to learn? Do they have the time or inclination to learn? Do they want real changes?
If all middle-class, lower middle-class, working-class and lower working-class parents were to take to the streets to demand the necessary changes, any government would capitulate. But since each group is thinking of its own petty interests, this will never happen.
The traditional parties share the same ideology and beliefs in this matter. We cannot expect any serious thinking from them.
The new breed of activists does not think that this issue deserves some attention. They all want spectacular and immediate popularity and success. Ce n’est pas demain la veille! IT’S NOT TOMORROW THE DAY BEFORE!
Worse, oh worse! Parents whose L1 is Mauritian, think that by using their own Frenchified gibberish, they will help their children to become ‘more intelligent’. Do these fools know that the ear is the first organ of the feotus to develop; that the child hears the mother talking, while still in the womb; that by not using the child’s L1 and language of the environment, they are hampering their normal development.
But there is hope. A couple, Mr. & Mrs. P.M, has opted for a more intelligent and suitable approach to help their ‘adopted’ son and the young boy who was thought to be a ‘katar’ (nitwit) is now recognised as ‘very bright’. He was ‘re-educated’ in his mother tongue (L1).
How many more children must we destroy before we come to realise the harm we are doing?



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