In Senegal, 98 public elementary schools are experimenting with teaching students in the native language of Wolof rather than French, the language of the nation’s former colonists.
The students will benefit from instruction in the language they speak at home, linguistics professor Mbacke Diagne, of Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, told Voice of America. Most children entering elementary school in Senegal, he noted, have been functioning in Wolof for several years. “They have structured their world in this language,” he said, “but as soon as they get to school, all this knowledge is set aside in order to impose French.”
Similar movements are under way in a number of other African nations as well.
Not all educators agree, however. Some point out that many African nations recognize multiple languages. In Senegal, for instance, although an estimated 80 percent of the population speaks Wolof, the government also recognizes 20 other native languages. In Ghana, the official language is English, but the government recognizes an additional 11 languages, with at least 70 different dialects spoken.
In Isla Montecristo, El salvador, residents help to collect the eggs of the endangered olive ridley, a black-green sea turtle, and then take them to Gio Díaz. Mr. Díaz, a local employee of the nonprofit Mangrove Association, pays for each egg collected, reports Pacific Standard magazine, and then places them in a hatchery. He and another man guard the hatchery (as the turtles are considered a local delicacy) 24 hours a day, sleeping in an adjacent hut. When the turtles are fully grown they are released into the sea in the hopes that this will strengthen their population, which has shrunk by 30 percent in recent years.
In Heidelberg, South Africa, when retiree Johan Scott noticed that vegetables were being stolen from his home garden, he didn’t go to the police.
Instead, he planted a new garden bordering right on the street, to make it easier for those in need to pick the beans, tomatoes, eggplants, and beetroot he was growing. “People are hungry,” Mr. Scott told News24. “They desperately need something like this, and that’s why I did it. It makes my heart happy when I see people eating the vegetables.”
A Facebook post about Scott’s act has since inspired others to plant similar gardens. Some have offered to provide Scott with seeds and gardening tools. A landowner in another part of South Africa posted a message on Facebook offering an acre of land to anyone who wanted to cultivate it, saying he was moved by what he had read about Scott.