You might have heard the latest fiasco regarding the rearrangement of Afaan Oromoo Alphabet also known as Qubee Afaan Oromo, as initially reported by TVO (Oromia TV) – the official OPDO media outlet. This latest news has created a storm among Oromoo people in diaspora and in Oromia, fiercely reacted to the sudden roll out of new teaching curriculum, in select schools of central Oromia.
The official explanation from OPDO officials regarding the rearrangement of Qubee alphabets has left many scratching their heads after closely examining studies cited or lack thereof any credible studies by OPDO officials. One study that was cited by the officials and warranted further scrutiny was ostensibly undertaken using software called Primer Pro. Using Primer Pro, as claimed by the officials, they analyzed the frequency of words in Afaan Oromo and concluded based on their results, the most frequent syllable to be “La”. This was the basis of the initiative to rearrange the Qubee alphabets from A B C D… to L A G M.. in the new curriculum.
The OPDO officials are unwilling to provide their research methodology or provide estimates of the number of words used to conduct the research. With similar information on the methodology used by OPDO for conducting the research, our researchers at Grand Afaan Oromo Project – a project being undertaken to translate Afaan Oromo in Google, duplicated the same study using Primer Pro software. A total of 5,234,866 Afaan Oromo words were entered into the software to analyze the frequency of syllables and letters. The result is presented in the table below. The letter “L” is ranked 13th most frequent letter in Afaan Oromo words, not even close to being the most frequent letter as claimed by government officials, as the basis for changing the order of Qubee. “A” is the most frequent letter and “La” is 19th in frequency.
Initially, the government officials claimed that the change in the order of Qubee was based on research funded by the USAID called EGRA (Early Grade Reading Assessment). Once the officials realized there was no such recommendation suggested in this USAID project report, they switched their narrative and claimed they based their decision on Primer Pro software study outcome.
Linguists and computer experts at GAOP used the same software and came to a different conclusion. This is yet another proof that changes to Qubee order was not made based on any credible research. While we cannot say for certain the motive behind the changes made, we can rule out that it was based on a credible study.
Grand Afaan Oromoo Project Team
June 7, 2017