Stakeholders call for language policy

The quality of education for youth in many developing countries is very poor with high teacher-student ratios and high drop-out rates, particularly for girls in the rural areas


PARTICIPANTS at the International Mother Language Day workshop in Harare last week called on government to formulate language policy to solve some of the language problems bedevilling the education sector.

Eventhough Ndlovu of the department of African languages and literature at the University of Zimbabwe said there were gaps in the Constitution in terms of the use of language to enjoy the right to education.

“The major problem that we have in Zimbabwe is that we don’t have an explicit written down language policy. There is need to have a policy framework to operationalise section 6 of our Constitution that is dedicated to languages,” he said.

Ndlovu pointed out sections 19 and 22 of the Constitution, which deal with rights of children and persons with disabilities, as being silent on the language to be used in order to access appropriate education.

“The right to access appropriate education is null and void if it is not done in the language that the learner understands better or in the mother’s language. There is no education without a language,” Ndlovu said.

Educational psychologist Fred Zindi said Zimbabwe should have a language policy that promotes indigenous languages just like other countries. Zindi said in other countries such as China, foreign students have to learn Mandarin for them to be enrolled at their universities.

UZ acting vice-chancellor Paul Mapfumo said the introduction of a language policy was long overdue.