An interesting proposal from Education Minister Dora Siliya :
This is a good proposal and is very much in line with our previous call for culture to play a much stronger role in the classroom. But I would like Ms Siliya to go further in two respects. First, ensure it is up to Grade 7. What is the point of learning only up to Grade 4? Secondly, learning a single local language promotes greater appreciation of the local heritage but it may perpetuate divisiveness. What I would like to see is adopting two or three compulsory languages, so that a Tonga child not only learns Tonga but also compulsory learns say Bemba or Tumbuka. If we are to foster deeper inter-tribal unity and greater cultural diversity we need an education that embrace differences, but at the same time teach the new generation how to communicate and relate to one other. Compulsory languages of other tribal languages and cultural lessons are particularly vital.The Zambian government has said children will be required to take a local language alongside English from grade one to four to help them learn initial basic skills of reading and writing local languages, local media reported on Wednesday. Recently, traditional leaders said there was need for the use of local languages foe teaching purposes in schools. Currently, the teaching of local languages is not compulsory in Zambian schools.
Minster of Education Dora Siliya said when she made a presentation to the traditional leaders that the local languages the pupils will be taking will not necessarily have to be their mother tongue but ones spoken by the vast majority of people in a given area of the country, the Zambia Daily Mail reported.
And why stop there?
We should probably consider dropping English as a single national language. As Wangari Maathi has previously noted, in many African countries the adoption of a single national official language probably does more harm than good. Although these policies are predicated upon the desire to foster inter tribal unity, they do so at the expense of reinforcing the dominance of rich African elites. More worryingly, such measures also prevent Africans in many villages from communicating with their governments, effectively turning these requirements into “the strongest forms of discrimination, and indeed, means of oppression and exclusion”. A possible solution is to follow South Africa’s approach and adopt a suite of national official languages.