Anjna Thomas of the Paix Bouche Primary has won the 10th annual Primary Schools Kwéyòl Spelling Bee Competition.
In 2nd place was Annelia Aaron of the Roosevelt Douglas Primary School and Lily Barry of the Goodwill Primary came in 3rd.
Chief Cultural Officer, Raymond Lawrence said Dominica has made progress in terms of the promotion and preservation of the creole language.
“For centuries now, we’ve used the creole language in our music even with the bèlè dances. In more recent times, in the 60’s, the folk groups have used a lot of the creole language and the singers in the Cadance like Ophelia and Midnight Groovers have also been promoting the language in their music as well,” he said.
He added, “I encourage all Dominicans, especially the young people, to speak the Kwéyòl whenever the opportunity arises… In that way, we will be helping to preserve our traditions and keep alive a very vital part of our culture. It’s all of us to play our role in helping to continue to prompt the language whether it’s by speaking through friends and family, whether it’s by taking part in the music and promoting the songs or whether its through the media that we could help prompt this beautiful language of ours.”
Lawrence said that apart from the two Kwéyòl dictionaries that have already been published, a new one is in the process of being published.
Meantime, Chief Education Officer, Melena Fontaine said steps have been taken to introduce the creole language in the schools curriculum.
“As ministry, we have heard the calls for an integration of creole into our curriculum and we recognize the importance of incorporating the language into everyday school instruction. I am very happy to say we have taken steps towards doing so with the consideration of a program that explores the use of home language in the teaching process,” she stated.
She explained, “Presently under the early learner’s program which is a program to do with reading we are working on a language policy which considers the use of home language and for us in Dominica it includes the creole language. We are working in partnership with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Division Management Unit and examining what is happening in other creole speaking countries”
Fontaine said very soon they are expected to pilot this program in at least one of Dominica schools where the community speaks a lot of creole.
She urged Dominicans to continue to allow the creole language to remain the country’s culture.
“The importance of the creole language cannot be understated. We definitely cannot allow it to die; it’s part of our culture and it’s going to remain our culture, ” the Chief Education Officer said. “And I think what is so important if we realize, is that in the days when I grew up, in certain homes, you could not speak Patois (Patwa)…you dared not do that but in some areas that’s what people were speaking; but…….because we have maintained and sustained the creole language, we find more and more people speaking it all over Dominica.”
Other schools which participated in the competition which was held at Alliance Francais on May 15th, 2019 are the St. Luke’s Primary and Woodfrdhill Primary.
This is the sixth time that the Paix Bouche Primary School has won the Kwéyòl Spelling Bee Competition.