Bernard Sanda Talah's PhD Thesis Unlocks Power of Linguistic Rights, Mother Tongue Education as Pathway to Sustainable Development

The doctoral thesis defence of Bernard Sanda Talah at the University of Bamenda on Wednesday 17 Apriil 2024 was a pointer to the critical intersection of linguistic rights, mother tongue education, and sustainable development. 

Talah's research, titled "Developing Orthography for Multi-dialectal Languages: A Study of Yamba," focused on the urgency and importance of promoting linguistic diversity and preserving endangered languages within the framework of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr Bernard Sanda (without robe) with panel after defence 

In an exclusive interview with The Hilltop Mail, Dr. Bernard Sanda Talah articulated the inspiration behind his thesis choice, citing the imperative to preserve endangered languages like Yamba while addressing the challenges posed by linguistic diversity. According to Dr Talah, his work aligns with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal IV on Quality Education, which emphasizes the promotion of inclusive and equitable education, including mother tongue-based instruction.

"What inspired me was first of all, one of the UN Sustainable goals on linguistic right and the use of mother tongue or minority languages in education. The benefits of this are enormous. In addition, Cameroon is on the track of promoting the use of our mother tongues as per the 2004 decentralization ordinance," Talah emphasized.
The significance of Dr Talah's research extends beyond academia. It highlights the transformative potential of promoting linguistic rights and mother tongue education in fostering social inclusion, preserving cultural heritage, and advancing sustainable development. By developing supplementary orthographies for multi-dialectal languages like Yamba, Dr Talah not only promotes linguistic identity but also facilitates access to education and literacy in marginalized communities.

Reflecting on his doctoral defence, Talah expressed a mix of emotions, from anxiety to determination and ultimately satisfaction. Despite the rigorous scrutiny from the panelists, Talah's research emerged triumphant, earning acclaim for its innovative approach to linguistic studies.

"My feelings before the defence was that of anxiety given that I had a college of experts in the domain to test the veracity of my claims of developing supplementary orthographies in a multidialectal languages can build confidence, promote linguistic identity and preserve the culture of a people, thereby promoting the use of a writing system," Talah shared.
Dr Bernard Sanda being blessed by Professors during reception 

Looking ahead, Dr Talah remains focused on leveraging his research to benefit the Yamba people and advance mother tongue education and literacy. His commitment underscores the pivotal role of the academia in driving positive social change and addressing pressing global challenges.  

Prior to warding 'Excellent' after the defence, the high level panel of Professors noted that, Dr. Talah's findings go beyond academic circles. According to them, it offers tangible solutions to promoting inclusive education, fostering linguistic rights, and empowering communities worldwide. In a world striving for sustainability and inclusivity, Dr Talah's research paves the way for a more equitable and linguistically diverse future.

By Bakah Derick 
Tel: 6 94 71 85 77 

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