OpEd, Politics

The Perils of Prioritizing Local Dialects in Public Offices

By Gama Hassan Oscas

In a multicultural society, the importance of effective communication cannot be overstated. Public offices and institutions play a vital role in providing services to citizens, regardless of their background or linguistic preferences. However, the disturbing trend of using local dialects instead of the official working language, or even Arabic to some extent, raises serious concerns about the credibility and fairness of these institutions. This practice, often observed in institutions where one tribe dominates, not only neglects visitors and clients but also fosters biased and tribalistic tendencies among officials. It is a disservice to the principles of equality and professionalism that these institutions should uphold.

The primary purpose of public offices and institutions is to serve the public, regardless of their affiliations. Therefore, the use of a common language, usually the official language, is crucial for ensuring effective communication. When officials choose to prioritize local dialects over the official language, it creates a significant barrier for those who are not familiar with the dialect. Visitors and clients from different backgrounds are left feeling marginalized and excluded from participating fully in the services they require. This exclusionary practice undermines the fundamental principles of inclusivity and equal access to public services.

Furthermore, when officials engage in conversations and discussions solely in their local dialects, they inadvertently create an atmosphere of favoritism and tribalism. By entertaining their friends or family members, they perpetuate a sense of exclusivity that undermines the neutrality and fairness that should be the hallmark of public offices. The disregard for visitors’ needs and the focus on personal relationships rather than professional obligations erode public trust in these institutions. This lack of professionalism compromises the credibility of public offices and contributes to a growing sense of disillusionment among citizens.

The consequences of prioritizing local dialects extend beyond mere inconvenience and exclusion. The neglect of visitors and clients in favor of hosting friends or family members in public offices further exacerbates the problem. It sends a message that personal relationships take precedence over professional responsibilities. Visitors who come seeking assistance are often left unattended, ignored, and humiliated as officials engage in private conversations and laughter. Such behavior is not only disrespectful but also undermines the dignity and rights of individuals who depend on these services.

It is essential to recognize that language is a powerful tool that shapes social dynamics and inclusivity within a society. While preserving and valuing local dialects is important for cultural heritage, it should not come at the expense of effective communication and the fair provision of public services. Public offices and institutions must prioritize the use of the official working language to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their linguistic background, can access services without facing discrimination or marginalization.

To address this issue, a comprehensive approach is needed. Firstly, there should be strict guidelines and regulations mandating the use of the official language or a commonly understood language in public offices. Training programs should be provided to officials to enhance their language skills and promote cultural sensitivity. Additionally, clear protocols need to be established to ensure that visitors are promptly attended to and treated with respect and dignity.

In conclusion, the prevalent practice of prioritizing local dialects over the official working language or Arabic in public offices is detrimental to the credibility and fairness of these institutions. It leads to the neglect of visitors and clients, fosters biased and tribalistic tendencies, and undermines the principles of inclusivity and professionalism. Reforms are necessary to ensure that public offices prioritize effective communication, equal access to services, and the preservation of public trust. Only by upholding these principles can public institutions fulfill their role as impartial and accountable providers of services to all citizens.

The writer can be reached on the email: oscarsgama @gmail.com


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