Zimbabwe’s minister for education, Dr Lazarus Dokora says the the idea to include the study of a variety of languages in the schools’ curriculum is still at its budding stage.
The ministry did not only add Swahili but also added French, Mandarin (Chinese) and Portuguese as well.
“The ministry is going to introduce foreign languages in the new curriculum which include French, Swahili, Chinese, and Portuguese in schools.”
The initiative was conceived in 2014 but was endorsed in 2015. This will be the new way in both primary and secondary education. The minister said in an official statement that the foreign languages will be for the secondary school pupils.
A few days ago, there was a report on Zimbabwe’s plans to permit the pupil’s instruction in the indigenous language. This was at the official handover ceremony of a primary school to the government by the Chinese Embassy.
The language bug seem to have also bitten the education ministry. As part of the changes in schools’ curriculum, the ministry has approved that the indigenous languages be the medium of instruction for pupils at the tender stage.
According to the minister, the plan will come in 2 phases – Implementation cum assessment and then the teacher capacity building.
Taking the bold step of permitting the teaching of pupils in an African indigenous language is commendable for Zimbabwe government. It means the native language comes first before the others. However the inclusion of foreign languages has been strongly criticized and viewed as yet another means of imperialism.
Swahili was proposed in the past to be an official African language. It is the most widely spoken language in Africa with an estimated 60-150 million speakers.
As Zimbabwe tackles the problem of language through education, we hope that more African countries will see the need to promote and preserve African mother tongues.