ZANU PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday waded into the controversy over the employment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers in Matabeleland saying the practice was destroying the children’s future.
Educationists from Matabeleland have attributed the poor pass rate in the region partly to the deployment of non-Ndebele teachers to teach early grades.
Moyo said he had received similar complaints about an unnamed Bulawayo school, which forced him to confront Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora.
He said Dokora had responded by saying his ministry was considering a Ndebele crash course for teachers who can’t speak the language.
The issue of children being taught by teachers who do not know their mother tongue was raised by a Zanu PF official from Victoria Falls at an interprovincial workshop addressed by different ministers at Elangeni Training Centre in Bulawayo.
The official complained that companies in Victoria Falls and Hwange were not employing locals, which he said was to blame for Zanu PF’s perennial electoral losses in the region.
“I spoke with Lazarus Dokora over the issue and he said his ministry would introduce crush programmes for teachers who do not understand local languages,” Khaya Moyo said.
“This is a serious matter that we want to address and we will address it. We should not have schools where people spend the whole day gazing at each other instead of learning because there is a communication problem.
“That is a serious matter that we need to address. Let us build the country together and not look down upon each other.
“How do you expect them to lead if they are not educated?”
Khaya Moyo also lashed out at politicians who show disdain towards other languages.
“We must be able to communicate in the language that people understand,” he said.
“Next week I will be addressing a rally in Mt Darwin and I will address them in Shona.
“I cannot go there and start addressing them in Ndebele because they will not understand and I would not be communicating.”
Last month former Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku expressed concern that a vast number of civil servants employed in the Matabeleland region were not conversant with Ndebele saying this fuelled tribalism.
Masuku, who is now a Matabeleland South senator, said during her tenure as governor, she encountered incidents at roadblocks where cops manning them could not speak Ndebele.
She was contributing to a motion on the policy on indigenous languages in the Senate and called for the teaching off all indigenous languages at schools.
She said local languages should be made mandatory requirements in job applications. Last week, Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Paul Mavhima said the government was revisiting the policy of deploying teachers to ensure children were taught by people who understood their languages.
Parents late last year said the skewed deployments were to blame for the bad language in the Ndebele Grade 7 exam.
There was uproar in the southern region of the country following revelations that the Grade 7 Ndebele Paper 1 examination contained slang and other vulgar words, among other vocabulary, not commonly used in everyday conversation.
The indaba was attended by government ministers as well as Zanu PF supporters in Matabeleland region to discuss problems afflicting the areas.