'We can't do away with English just yet'

'We can't do away with English just yet'

By Daniel Itai, Harare, Zimbabwe

Some of the country’s teachers unions have expressed pessimism over the idea of replacing English with native languages as the mode of learning.

This follows a series of calls that have been and are still being made by various Pan-Africanists across the continent for African countries to use their native languages as the mode of learning.

However, Dr. Takavafira Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, (PTUZ) said the idea is not feasible.

“Firstly, we have not clearly developed the indigenous languages and there is a credibility gap between our languages and production. We have simply become a supermarket for goods produced from outside and do not see how our indigenous languages can help in fostering sustainable development.

What we need first is to harness indigenous knowledge systems for local development, local industries and produce. The local languages can only assist in branding and marketing manufactured products and therefore balancing export and import.

Moreover, the damage done by colonialism cannot be washed away but rather we should take the positive aspects from it and blend them with indigenous knowledge systems for development. The ability to use English by many Africans is an important mode of interaction with other nations and must only be corroborated by indigenous knowledge systems rather than being replaced by indigenous languages,” said Dr. Zhou.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)’s national spokesperson, Nation Mudzitirwa, also concurred with the PTUZ leader.

“Consider the huge financial pouring needed to review the curriculum to align and realign it with the existing curriculum. A lot of resistance is unavoidable since it has a tectonic impact politically, socially, and industrially.

However, it is important to promote native languages or indigenous languages but it needs to be done in a well researched manner. Moreso, native languages are most suitable in buttressing certain skills theoretically and practically,” said the spokesperson of ARTUZ.


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