Minister for Education Alfred
Minister for Education Alfred

In an effort to revive the dwindling use of Dominica's Creole Language, the Minister for Education, Octavia Alfred, declared that a new initiative would be introduced to all schools around the county called: "Five Minute Pause for the Creole Cause".

The Minister made the declaration back in February when the Dominica Youth Council, Creole Heartbeat Magazine, UWI Open Campus, and other stakeholders hosted a symposium themed: Language and Culture Preservation, The Impact of Creole on Dominica's Education System.

This initiative was scheduled to get off the ground in June, however as the month draws to a close, it looks like this project did not meet the expected success.

When asked about the "Pause for the Creole Cause" initiative, Minister Alfred explained that "people were a little apprehensive saying "I don't know that Creole'' '.

Alfred believes the confusion came from teachers misunderstanding what was expected of them and the initiative.

"It was really not something that was supposed to be formal and structural and written. It was supposed to be a fun thing that after assembly "jodi se londi" which means "today is Monday"', she said.

She added: "And I think some people took it on very seriously, too seriously so they kind of complicated it a little but I am happy our schools got on board and for us, it was a good learning experience now we see where we go forward with it".

However, teachers themselves expressed mixed views on the programme. The Sun made several inquiries about the "Five Minute Pause for the Creole Cause" and some educators were woefully oblivious to this initiative.

When asked the simple question "have you heard of the "Pause for the Creole Cause? it was met with comments such as "not at all", "on the radio", "first time hearing about it".

And you guessed it. These teachers attend schools where the initiative has not been implemented.

Teachers did agree that it would be good to introduce children to the Creole Language no matter what level of school they currently attend. As the saying goes "better half a loaf than no bread". But what about those who are actually tasked with undertaking this job?

One of the teachers, who chose not to divulge personal information or the name of the school, said this was not properly planned. In expressing views to The Sun, the educator said: "I work in a school and had heard nothing of the sort prior to the Minister's announcement in February".

The initiative was supposed to have started during the second term of the 2020-2021 academic year, but as the teacher pointed out "term two is long gone and it is quickly approaching the end of term three. I am still wondering and awaiting the promised guide."

The Education Minister admits that a review will be done on what transpired so far and a report will be produced before the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.

"I will put out a report as soon a school closes' Alfred stated 'because a number of schools took on the initiative and they did well", she said.

The Minister added: "We have a report because students are now doing exams. So we are looking at the report to analyze it to see where do we go with the initiative".

There is another component to the project which Alfred said is difficult to assess. The "Five Minute Pause for the Creole Cause" sought to help children learn the Creole language both at school and at home. While the children were able to receive some sort of exposure in the controlled classroom setting, the more dynamic home situation may have proved move troublesome.

"We do not know how we are going to assess that because we never really formally engaged parents. We were using our students to go home and teach their parents. But maybe as we move forward we will," Alfred said.

While teachers remain concerned over the strategy of this initiative, Alfred remained adamant.

"We are sure our children learned some words and our teachers too," she said.