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« on: April 16 2013 »

April 14, 2013 in The Standard / Community News

BULAWAYO — A non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Binga is recruiting
Tonga speaking youths to undertake teacher-training courses to ensure that
students in that area are taught in their mother tongue.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

The NGO, Basilwizi Trust, says having Tonga teachers in Binga is necessary
for the preservation of the Tonga language, customs and traditions.

The move will also ensure that the language is given equal treatment to
other languages like Ndebele, Shona and English — the country’s current
official languages.

There has been an outcry from minority language speaking communities that
their languages have not been recognised since independence and were playing
second fiddle to English, Ndebele and Shona.

The minority languages have not been taught and examined at schools since
1980. It was only last year that the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and
Culture introduced the teaching of Tonga in Binga and pupils sat for their
first ever examination in their mother tongue.

According to Josias Mungombe, the Basilwizi Trust project coordinator in
charge of education, the organisation has made an agreement with teacher
training colleges in the country to reserve a quota for Tonga-speaking
youths when they recruit trainees.

“We [Basilwizi Trust] have many programmes that we run, but our emphasis is
on education since it is key to the development of any community.

“Without education, it is difficult if not impossible for any community to
achieve any development. The development of any community starts with
ensuring that the language that they speak is not marginalised but
recognised as official,” Mungombe told Standardcommunity.

“This is the reason why we are going deep down in all rural communities of
Binga searching for youths who have requisite O’ and A’ level
qualifications.

“We want youths here to become teachers and teach the young ones in their
mother tongue for the development and preservation of the language, customs
and tradition because if we do not do that, in the next five years or so,
the language and Tonga people will be history.”

Bulawayo-based analysts hailed Basilwizi Trust for coordinating the
recruitment of teacher trainees in Binga, saying it is necessary for the
upliftment of the marginalised community.

“If a language of a community is not prioritised, what it means is that the
community is not prioritised in terms of development. That is why Binga is
still underdeveloped since independence,” said Effie Ncube, the chairman of
the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda (Macra).

“Language is by far the most important tool for development. There is no
person that can develop outside their language.

“Until such a time when the Tonga language and our languages are
professionalised and used as a language for communication, there will be no
development,” said Thabani Nyoni, the executive director of Bulawayo Agenda
and spokesperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

“The best way to develop a people is to allow them to think and express
themselves in their language,” he said.

Chief Sikalenge of Binga weighed in saying he wanted students in Binga to be
taught by only Tonga-speaking teachers.

Though the Education ministry last year approved the teaching of Tonga in
Binga, the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) recently issued a
circular indicating that the language will not be examined this year.

This led to Basilwizi Trust, the Zimbabwe Indigenous Languages Promotion
Association (Zilpa) and chiefs from Binga raising their concerns with
Education minister, David Coltart over the directive. Zimsec later withdrew
its circular.

What are Zim’s official languages?

According to the Copac draft constitution, Chewa, Chibarwe, English,
Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language,
Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa will be recognised as official
languages in Zimbabwe.

source: http://www.thestandard.co.zw
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