Dr Mrs Agbada E.O. is currently the Dean of languages at the college of education, Warri. She has been in the teaching profession for 27 years now. She hails from Ellu of Vese family in Isoko north local government area of Delta state.
In this interview with Isoko Mirror, she proffers suggestions and solutions to the development and progress of the Isoko language by establishing an Isoko language development foundation where clubs, philanthropists and other public spirited individuals can donate or contribute money into for effective development of the Isoko language.
Please let us meet you?
I am Dr. (Mrs.) Elizabeth Oghenekome Agbada. A linguist and a lecturer by Profession. I
am of F.M.E., Vese family of Ellu and Prof. Ifode (nee Donwa)
How long have you been into the teaching profession?
Well I have been a teacher for the past 27 years.
What inspired you into the profession/choice of course?
The love for the development of my language made me to study Yoruba language in my first degree and did my postgraduate in Linguistics. I was able to study how Yourba language was developed and use the knowledge acquired to work on Isoko language. As for the teaching profession, this is the only way I can pass my knowledge to others in order to carry on the development of the language.
As head of department, what are your challenges?
For a department to be viable, the number of students should be reasonable. The minimum number of lecturers required in a department is six. A situation where the number of lecturers are more than the number of students, there is a problem. Parents are not willing to pay school fess on a child who wants to study our language. They see it as waste of money. Students that are willing to come and study the language have no sponsors. Because of lack of sponsorship, the enrolment of students into the department becomes a problem. That is why we are soliciting for the assistance of well-meaning Isoko people to
sponsor students so that we can have a good number of them to study the language. Therefore, the challenge is lack of sponsorship for students to study the language. The Provost is threatening that any department without a reasonable number of students will be closed down and lecturers moved to other field of study relevant to their qualifications. College of Education, Warri is the only tertiary institution where Isoko is being studied to train teacher for both primary and junior secondary. If closed down, then Isoko will die a natural death. Other languages like Isekiri and Urhobo are sponsoring their people to study their language. We need such support too to keep Isoko language alive.
Have you been getting support from your people, I mean the Isoko people ?
To some extent yes. Chief P. Erhiri, Major Gen. P. Omu, High Chief Iduh Amadhe and Isoko United Club have helped us in the past and it has not been easy. For the department to be sustained, we need regular sponsorship of at least N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) yearly for about thirty students in the department i.e ten students per level. Isoko United Club has been so helpful. They have given the students N300,000.00 twice now, and they promise doing so yearly. It was this money, with the help of High Chief Iduh and the lecturers in the department (Rev. Joe Okedi, Mrs. Ajiri Omekeh, Mrs. Martha Umukoro (Nee Ekone) and Mr. John Itiveh) that the fees of fourteen students have now been paid.
Is Isoko language being taught in the primary and secondary schools?
Not really. There are not enough teachers who are trained to teach the language in both primary and junior secondary schools. The few ones that graduated from the College of Education, Warri are not employed by the government to teach the language in the school. The curriculum developed by Late Sir, Idudhe and which was sponsored by Elona Foundation under the leadership of Mrs. Ovuzorie Macauley for Federal Government’s approval has not been printed and distributed to schools for use. This is after five years of approval by the Federal Government. The money needed for the printing of the curriculum is N10,000,000.00 (ten million naira). Urhobo curriculum that was approved three years
later has been printed and shared to their schools.
What is the way forward?
We need an Isoko Language development Foundation where clubs, philanthropists and individuals can put in some money yearly.
What is your advice generally?
If we do not develop our language, nobody will do it for us (Prof. K. Williamson) all well-meaning Isoko persons should be concerned so that the language will not go into extinction. We should rise up now before it is too late.
How can someone reach you for such help? You can contact, Dr. (Mrs.) Agbada E.O, Dean, School of Languages, College of Education, Warri. 07034921444, 08055320840. Account Details: Name: Agbada, Elizabeth Oghenekome, Account No. 1006682935 Bank: UBA