Local language revitalization triumphs: SMPN 2 Jayapura students win at Tunas Bahasa Ibu Festival

language revitalization
Dorthea Carolien Enok, the Principal of SMPN 2 Jayapura junior high. - Jubi/Ramah

Jayapura, Jubi – Dorthea Carolien Enok, the Principal of SMPN 2 Jayapura junior high, mother tongue or local languages hold equal importance compared to national and foreign languages. Therefore, the younger generation should not overlook the need to maintain proficiency in their mother tongue.

She emphasized the necessity of revitalizing local languages, especially among students at SMPN 2 Jayapura from a young age, encouraging them to use their mother tongue in their daily conversations.

Enok explained that local languages play a crucial role in identifying one’s cultural roots and preserving them. At their school, it’s common for children to communicate in local languages.

In light of their participation in the Tunas Bahasa Ibu (Tobati Language) Festival, Enok proudly mentioned that SMPN 2 Jayapura secured the top position in the short story and folk song categories. This achievement serves as motivation for both the school and its students to continue promoting the use of local languages, not just within the school environment but also at home.

Enok revealed that preparations for the competition took about a month, and the students will receive further training from the Papua Language Center in November 2023 to participate in the Gebyar Tunas Bahasa Ibu event in Jakarta.

Antonius Maturbongs, involved in language development at the Papua Language Center, stressed the significance of language coaching and development in supporting the revitalization of local languages, playing a direct and indirect role in the process.

He explained that this program involves various stages, including language mapping, language vitality studies, conservation, revitalization, and registration.

Antonius expressed hope that the promotion of local languages in schools would serve as a means of revitalization, beginning from elementary schools, continuing through junior high schools, and extending to high school and vocational education units. He pointed out that the use of local languages among children in Jayapura City is becoming increasingly rare in both family and community settings, indicating that there is a growing need to reintroduce and promote these languages, particularly through revitalization efforts in schools.

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