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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: January 11 2013 »

The Zimbabwean, By Paul Ndlovu, 9 January 2013

The government has voiced its concern that schools across the country are not teaching minority languages and has said the issue needs to be prioritised.

“This problem is more prone in areas where there was a variety of mixed languages and cultures such as Tonga, Venda and other,” said the minister of education David Coltart.

He pointed out all schools were obliged to teach minority or marginalised languages as part of the country’s educational curriculum.

“There can be no exceptions, the ministry prescribed the curriculum to the schools, which they in turn have to follow.”

However, Coltart conceded that as much as schools had to pursue the curriculum, he understood the gravity of the problem affecting some areas.

He illustrated how it was a combination of factors starting from shortage of suitable teachers speaking the minority languages, to the curriculum itself and finances.

“These are related problems. The selection and training of teachers is a mandate of the higher and tertiary ministry. We don’t control that aspect, it is an anomaly which the ministry of education can’t solve on its own. If only the ministry of higher and tertiary could redraw some assistance from the education ministry like what used to happen in the 1990s that could be helpful. In my view there are also deficiencies in the syllabus,” he said. Coltart said the problem was deep rooted.

“There are few students from diverse cultures who can speak these languages and pass with the necessary qualifications and proceed to do higher education and become teachers. This has to do with the shortage of schools where they come from. It is a vicious cycle,” he said.

Even though the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education announced that it would introduce a minority languages department at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic in Gwanda, Coltart said the course would not make the problem disappear.

source: http://davidcoltart.com/2013/01/teach-minority-tongues-coltart/
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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« Reply #1 on: March 22 2013 »

EDUCATION Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart has blocked moves by Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) to make teaching of the Tonga language in Binga optional ahead of Ndebele and Shona.

News Day, March 11, 2013 in Education, National, News, Report by Nqobile Bhebhe

The plan would have resulted in Grade Seven pupils sitting for five subjects instead of four.

Binga is predominantly a Tonga and Nambya-speaking area.
Last week local traditional leader Chief Sinansengwe told NewsDay that they were shocked by the circular that detailed the plans.

Sinansengwe said they were contemplating withdrawing children from schools if the plan was implemented.

“We saw a circular towards the end of February stating that Tonga should now be an optional language ahead of Ndebele and Shona,” he said.

“We found it very strange in that the circular was contravening the current one, which resulted in our children writing Tonga in Grade Seven public examinations set by Zimsec.

The chief said they were planning to engage the Ministry of Education over the emotive issue.

“All avenues would be exploited to solve the issue and if it all fails then we have no choice, but to approach the president (Robert Mugabe),” he said.

“We cannot be treated as foreigners in our country”.

But Coltart told NewsDay that he was not consulted before the directive was issued and had since written to Zimsec ordering it to reverse the move.

According to correspondence from Coltart to Zimsec on the matter, the public examninations body’s moves contradicted provisions in the draft constitution.

“My attention has been drawn by the Minister of Public Works (Joel Gabbuza) to the contents of paragraph 1(a) of Zimsec Circular Number 1 of 2013, which effectively forces children whose mother tongue is Tonga, Chivenda, Xichangana and Nambya to write a 5th subject at Grade 7.

“I note this marks a change from the previous policy circular (see Circular 2 of 2011)”, wrote Coltart in a letter also copied to Zimsec board chairman Norman Maphosa and Gabbuza.

“This provision is in direct conflict with Section 6 (3) (b) of the proposed new constitution, which states that all officially recognised languages be treated equally.

“Although the new constitution has not come into effect yet, I think it is important that all Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture’s policies be compatible with the aspirations and content of the proposed new Constitution.

“Accordingly, please immediately ensure that the directive is rescinded and that we revert to the situation, which prevailed before in terms of Circular 2 of 2011.”

The Tonga language was for the first time in the history of Zimbabwe in October 2011 officially tested at Grade Seven level.

Last year, villagers in Binga threatened to withdraw their children from school if the proposed constitution does not recognise and enforce the teaching of minority languages in schools.
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