GOLD COAST - Finally, could it be that there is some light at the end of a very long tunnel.
I have previously written to Federal and State governments about the desirability for Papua New Guinea’s main lingua franca, Pidgin English (or Tok Pisin), to be listed as an optional subject taught in our school’s along with Indonesian, Mandarin and Japanese.
After consistently being rejected at all levels of government from the Gillard school curriculum review to state government education department level, there suddenly seems to have been a breakthrough in common sense.
On page 28 of yesterday’s The Australian newspaper in the higher education section, there appeared Sean Powell’s article ‘Want to speak Tok Pisin? ANU offers more regional languages.’
Apparently Tok Pisin is now to be ranked along with Burmese and Mongolian and offered by the ANU’s Open Universities Australia as one of 14 languages in both short and degree length courses.
The courses will have a blend of online and face-to-face teaching.
The Dean of the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific, Professor Michael Wesley, says competency in regional languages will “play a decisive role in shaping our future world”.
As Raymond Sigimet said in PNG Attitude this morning, "For the average Papua New Guinean, if a foreigner can communicate using Tok Pisin, the foreigner is already considered a friend."
The Director of the ANU’s school of history, culture and language, Professor Simon Haberle, considers mono-lingual Australians are at a disadvantage.
Journalist Sean Powell didn't quite get the research right, however, referring to Tok Pisin as “PNG's native language”.
It’s not a native or vernacular language, of course, being a lingua franca, and one of PNG’s four official languages sitting alongside English, Hiri Motu and Braille.
The devil will be in the detail. Who will develop the Tok Pisin curriculum for the ANU and who will be present the subject and assignments?
Bihain bai yumi lukim laga? We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.