Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has encouraged the youth to learn local Ghanaian languages alongside the English Language to help them appreciate the various indigenous cultures at an early age.
He said when children learned the local languages at a very young age, as against the introduction of the English Language, as was being observed in most homes, they grew with it and became exposed to their local dialects.
“Our children must be made to cultivate, understand and appreciate their languages. They must also know where they come from to enable them to grow to appreciate it. The Ministry also has plans to introduce language competitions among young people,” he said.
Dr Awal said this when members of the Kids in Tourism Club paid a courtesy call on him in Accra on Wednesday.
He said the English Language was good but children could not learn that alone to the detriment of their mother tongue, saying: “As you grow, learn the English Language but do not forget your local language because it is very important to us and we have to be very holistic about it.”
Dr Awal said there were just marginal differences among the arts and cultures and by learning the local language at a tender age, the young ones would appreciate the varied cultures and, thus, contribute their quota to promote Ghana’s domestic tourism.
“It is good to promote tourism among Ghanaians, domestically, because it helps us to know so many things and these young people will get to know Ghana better to foster national unity and development,” he said.
Nana Yaa Afriyie, the Co-Founder of the Kids in Tourism Club, said the visit was to introduce themselves, explain the activities of the Club to the Minister and congratulate him on his new appointment.
She said the Club had collaborated with the Ministry and the Ghana Tourism Authority over the years to promote tourism among the younger ones.
The Club, established four years ago, has a membership of about 7000, and currently exists in various schools in six regions across the country, including the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Savanna, Bono, Bono East, and Central.
Nana Afriyie said due to the COVID-19 the Club did not organise any activity last year aside from the one held in December 2019, when it held the annual tourism festival on the “Year of Return” calendar.
“We are very fortunate that yet, at this time, there is a new sector Minister and as a tourism club, we felt there is the need to bring some of the children here to officially welcome you and also to let you know about us and our existence,” she said.
“We have been in existence for about four years now and we have been able to win the regional award in 2018 and the national award for promoting domestic tourism among children that same year. We have also been able to take some of these children outside the country for the children’s festival.”
Activities of the Club include teaching the children about their culture, festivals, and tourist attractions, and participating in club meetings, Nana Afriyie said.
“We also have a programme, dubbed: Kids Sanitation, where we encourage the children to keep their environments clean because, with tourism development, sanitation plays a key role. We can’t introduce the children to our culture in a dirty environment,” she added.