PTUZ calls for language of instruction policy

HARARE - Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou has implored government to create content and material that is in all the 16 official languages recognised under the new Constitution.

Speaking at a PTUZ curriculum symposium, Zhou said government made the wrong assumption that English, Shona and Ndebele were the only languages of instruction in the country.

Zhou’s plea comes as parents in Matabeleland have been complaining that government deploys non-Ndebele speaking teachers in their area, disadvantaging the learners there.

“There must be a clear language policy. The Constitution offers a choice of many local languages. Let us not assume that everyone in Matabeleland is Ndebele or in Masvingo there are only Karanga people.

“There are areas such as Chiredzi where Shangaan is spoken and in Hwange where people speak in Nambya. We should use those languages in the formative years of education so that learners understand and also preserve their own cultures,” Zhou said.

He noted that another problem was a lack of teaching material in Zimbabwe’s 16 recognised vernacular languages and foreign languages introduced by the new curriculum.

Zhou said there had to be material on languages first before starting to impose them on teachers to teach to learners.

“The foreign languages introduced in the curriculum such as Swahili and Chinese do not have material and teachers.

“Most of the subjects are on the timetable in schools but when it comes to lesson time, there is no dedicated teacher for the subject,” he said.

According to the curriculum, learners in the Early Childhood Development stage are supposed to learn in all    the vernacular languages      but that is yet to be implemented.

The Constitution lists Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sign Language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa as Zimbabwe’s official languages.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima said the ministry had noted many of the concerns raised and would be addressing them.

Mavima said there were donors both solicited and unsolicited who wanted to invest in Zimbabwe’s education system.

“I have received calls from individuals who want to invest in education. One person said they were willing to forward £50 000 to any area that is in need. The Global Partnership on Education has pledged $10 million of which I want to use $7 million immediately to support the implementation of the curriculum. These resources will also be going towards teacher capacity development,” Mavima said.