Microsoft, is working with the Linguistics Association of Nigeria and other advocates to introduce Language Interface Packs for the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages, which would be compatible with Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Word, an official of the company has said.
Citizenship Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Jummai Umar-Ajijola, who led a team of Microsoft partners to make a presentation to the Chairman, Education Committee of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Faruk Lawan in Abuja, said the software would make Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office packages more locally relevant and easier to understand for Nigerian end users.
The visit was part of the company’s activities to mark the Mother Language Day, which also included a visit to the Federal Ministry of Education, where the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Bello Ozigi received the team on behalf of the Minister of State for Education, Hajiya Aisha Dukku.
Umar-Ajijola said governments around the world were facing a great challenge on the need to build a strong economy that could participate effectively in an increasingly interconnected world.
“In an environment as diverse as Nigeria with over 500 ethnic languages, the need to eliminate the language barrier around technology education is critical to the success of the efforts to bridge the digital divide. It is in the light of this need that Microsoft developed the Local Language Program to provide the tools and technologies required to develop, enhance, and expand local IT economies and to enable language groups of all sizes to participate in this growth”, she said. Moderator of the Localisation process in Nigeria, Dr. Tunde Adegbola said the Windows Interface Packs would be released in May, while the Office Interface Packs would be released in October.
“This is a further demonstration of the company’s commitment to supporting the reform agenda of the present administration by transforming education and creating opportunities for local innovation. We are delighted to be a part of this great project”, he said.
According to him, Articles 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Declared that all persons have the right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice, and particularly in their mother tongue.
Hon. Lawan commended Microsoft for its efforts to develop a strong local Information Technology (IT) industry and to ensure that every citizen possessed fair and meaningful access to locally relevant technology. “Functional education and specialised training are the pre-requisites for a productive workforce, and good leaders, it is the only way to create a populace that is successful in all spheres of human life. These cannot be achieved without understanding, which is the critical role that language plays. We are therefore committed to ensuring that everyone has access to functional education in a language that they are familiar with. We commend Microsoft for the great initiative to bring technology to everyone through the Local Language Programme”, he said.