|Indigenous languages should be preserved - Page 2|
|Saturday, 05 May 2012 22:49|
Page 2 of 2.
In an interview with Sunday News, the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and culture Senator David Coltart said schools that were not teaching the languages of their locality were in breach of a Government directive.
“We realise the importance of protecting the teaching of indigenous languages in schools and with that the Government has enacted a policy that the minor languages be taught for the entire primary level and be examinable at Grade Seven and these schools that were not doing so are breaching the ministry’s directive,’’ said Sen Coltart.
It is a child’s right to explore his or her own mother language in a manner that he understands better; it awards him with the opportunity to relate to his own people fluently and appreciate his language with no difficulty as well as relating to his own culture.
“The education of a child is more important than anything. It is a human right and Zimbabwe signed the international convention on the rights of the child and as such learning one’s own language is a right that a child should have,’’ Senator Coltart said.
In Hwange, Nambya has been included in the school curriculum and is now being taught as a school subject while in Binga, Tonga was also added to the school curriculum and will be taken up to Grade Seven.
The exemption of these languages in our daily lives greatly caused cultural drain and marginalised indigenous languages as well as their people.
Mr Pathisa Nyathi, a renowned academic and historian, said because of what we have always been taught and exposed to, a lot of people have been culturally drained into the English way of life and have forsaken their own traditional ways.
He recommended the full usage of indigenous languages as the best way to preserve decaying culture as well as maintaining black humanity.
“Most people have forsaken their cultural values not because they intentionally wanted to do so but because of what they have been taught about their own culture using another culture’s language,’’ said Mr Nyathi.
Mr Nyathi bemoaned the loss of African culture and said because of adapting a colonial language, we as blacks have been belittled. He also emphasised the full usage of indigenous languages to our own advantage.
“The colonial language is not doing anything but actually it is belittling not only our language but also our culture as well. We thus need our languages to be recognised and promoted,’’ he said.
The introduction of indigenous languages in Zimbabwe was first done in tertiary institutions and has since spread to the lower sectors of education which will see the first amalgamated African languages examinations being sat for by primary school children this year.
Most universities offer African languages as a degree programme and in that programme a student majors mainly on the language that she or he understands better.
University of Zimbabwe, for example, offers languages such as Venda, Kalanga and Tonga while Midlands State University boasts of offering African languages as an honours degree. This move will see more tutors being trained as well as boosting people’s ego about their own languages.
The teaching of indigenous languages at primary level has been welcomed by many people and many hands have so far been stretched to aiding this move.
Zambia bought forward Tonga textbooks and a syllabus which is currently in use especially in the Binga district were Tonga is widely used for communication while South Africa which has a large number of Shangaan and Venda speaking people has also aided with the Venda and Shangaan textbooks.
Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Dr Stan Mudenge confirmed that the country was reiceiving aid from neighbouring countries.
“We have been receiving reading materials from neighbouring countries such as south Africa where Venda and Shangaan are dominant as well as Tonga textbooks from Zambia,’’ said Dr Stan Mudenge.
The programme has so far been a success but still there are some loopholes that are hindering the project.
The main problem has been the shortage of qualified tutors who have a deeper knowledge to the languages.
For a child to be identified with the entire education process, the role played by the child’s native culture and language and that of the native language teacher should not be underplayed.
In most schools were these languages have been introduced, there has been an outcry over the shortage of teachers.
Senator Coltart revealed that there was there were very few trained teachers especially at the primary level.
“The Government is committed to teaching indigenous languages but there is a wide shortage of teachers who can teach pupils competitively at primary levels,’’ said Senator Coltart.
The other problem has been the multi usage of languages by a child at a tender age, this causes him to be confused and at most cases result in the child mixing up languages. Another problem encountered is the multi diversity of languages within a school, in most schools children come from different backgrounds and speak different languages and it becomes very difficult to choose which indigenous language to teach them.
Zimbabweans, however, purport to have a democratic nation that seeks to promote peaceful co-existence of people in a society where pluralism does not entail replacenent of one’s language or identity by another but instead promotes co-operation and a sense of common destiny.