Schools to teach indigenous languages

The successful introduction of Tonga in the education curriculum has spurred the government to kick-start efforts to pursue a similar programme with other indigenous languages, Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart has said.

In an interview on Tuesday, Coltart said he had engaged his counterparts in neighbouring countries to assist in the projects.

“I have had discussions with my Zambian counterpart that we use their materials in teaching the Tonga language since that country has a larger Tonga population,” he said.

“The long-term plan is to include other local languages and take them beyond Grade 7.” Coltart said languages such as Venda and Sotho would be incorporated into the curriculum in the long run.

“I have also had discussions with my counterparts in South Africa to carry out a pilot project in future for languages such as Sotho and Venda,” he said.

Coltart said there were important factors such as the issue of teachers for those particular subjects, which the ministry needed to look into before introducing the languages in schools.

At least 77,6% of Grade 7 pupils who sat for Tonga in the national examinations last year passed, a development officials say is an indication the two-year old pilot programme has been a success.

Tonga-speaking pupils first wrote the examinations in 2010 as a pilot programme to assess whether pupils were ripe to sit for public examinations.

Following the successful pilot programme, Tonga language was then tested under the Zimbabwe Examinations Council regulations at Grade 7 level in 2011.

Male pupils recorded a 75,5% pass rate while their female counterparts registered a pass rate of 79,75%.

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