I delivered the following statement at the 2019 United Nations High Level Forum on Minority Issues which took place in Geneva, Switzerland on 28 and 29 November 2019.
FORUM ON MINORITY ISSUES
12TH SESSION, 28 – 29 NOVEMBER 2019
Statement on Agenda Item No. 3 : Public policy objectives for education in, and the teaching of, minority languages
Within the general objective of the Forum, which is to provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on minority issues. I take note of the Government of Zimbabwe positive policy proclamations on revitalising and promoting minority languages and efforts to aimed at inclusion of learners’ from linguistic minority communities. I also acknowledge progressive sections within the 2013 constitution of Zimbabwe that protect minority languages and the right to education, specifically sections 27, 33 and 63.
I am also cognisant of the current legislative and policy reform process on education aimed at aligning the Education Act with provisions in the constitution on equality in the delivery of education programmes and the attendant public consultation process.
However, Madam Chair, I am concerned by the disparity between policy and practice in the inclusion of minority languages within the education system in Zimbabwe. My concerns are on minority languages educators training, curriculum development and the practice of teaching minority languages in public schools. I am of the view that my government can do more to improve the situation.
Minority languages are only taught up to primary school level and this has resulted in a bottleneck since minority languages are not being taught or used as the medium of instruction in secondary and higher education. This leads to demotivation among learners to preserve and uphold their languages as learning the languages does not translate to better opportunities and hence the speakers choose not to be associated with them due to the marginalization of the languages.
Madam Chair, noting that education is an important tool in promoting minority languages, I propose the following recommendations:
- The government to ensure that minority languages are taught up to tertiary level and give effect to minority languages to be used as languages of instruction and record in academic work;
- Giving opportunity to linguistic minorities to enroll in teacher training colleges, so that they can impart language skills to other generations for the sustainability of languages;
- The Government of Zimbabwe should take a deliberate policy to digitize minority languages and adopt a deliberate policy to rely on the speakers of the language to teach children in schools and tertiary education institutions.
I thank you!