Statement by Education Minister David Coltart:
THE most important building block in every child’s education is his/her ability to read, write and speak his/her mother tongue.
Once those skills have been mastered, it is much easier for a child to learn another language, such as the world’s business language English, and Mathematics.
Since taking office, I have tried to promote the teaching of all indigenous languages in Zimbabwe. That is why during my tenure for the first time ever Tonga has been examined at Grade 7, and textbooks in a variety of other marginalised indigenous languages have either been produced and distributed to schools or are in the process of being produced through the Education Transition Fund which I chair and which is managed by Unicef.
It is for the same reason we have now committed ourselves to teaching and examining all indigenous languages spoken in Zimbabwe. In line with this policy, I am pleased to announce that the Education Transition Fund (phase 2) has a new budget line of some US$9 million for the production of language readers.
We recently held a “Readers Expo” at our HQ in Harare and invited publishers and others to exhibit the readers they have on offer. Whilst this was a successful event, what has emerged is that we have very few readers in all indigenous languages including the mainline Shona and SiNdebele languages.
The challenge now for Zimbabwean writers and educationalists is for them to write new Zimbabwean readers in all languages so that we can work to have them printed and distributed to schools.
Those interested in doing so are encouraged to contact our Curriculum Development Unit in Mount Pleasant, Harare. I encourage the press and all those interested to help us advertise this project.
I call specifically on those language and ethnic groups throughout Zimbabwe to mobilise so that they use this opportunity to address what has been a major gap in our education system.
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