THE government has given green light for the teaching of Tonga in locals at Ordinary Level for the first time since independence bringing relief to Binga people, who have been advocating for the teaching of their language in schools instead of Ndebele.
In September 2014, Binga Rural District Council passed a resolution banning the teaching of Ndebele in council schools, a move it said was aimed at promoting Tonga and preserving traditional values.
Binga is predominantly inhabited by the Tonga ethnic group.
Matabeleland North deputy provincial education officer Jabulani Mpofu yesterday confirmed the new development.
“Yes, I can confirm that Tonga is now being taught at Ordinary Level,” he said.
“The president (Robert Mugabe) donated textbooks.
“However, I can’t confirm when they are going to sit for the examinations, but it can’t be this year.”
Tonga was first examined in 2011 at Grade 7 level, The same group could be the first to sit for the exam this year.
The teaching of Tonga in Binga schools has been championed by several groups including the council, which came up with a resolution to ban teaching of Ndebele in its schools.
The council’s decision was taken after the community allegedly raised concerns about the death of their language and values in the district, as some primary schools were said to be teaching five subjects to accommodate Ndebele.
In 2011, a major milestone was achieved when Tonga was officially tested in the Grade 7 exams for the first time.
Last week Chief Siansali rallied behind the teaching of Tonga in the district and welcomed the launch of a series of Tonga textbooks for primary and secondary education called ChiTonga Bwanachilo and Lusumpuko series, aimed at preserving traditional values.
The books were launched in October 2014 in Binga at an event organised by Tonga Languages Committee, an organisation which champions the preservation of Tonga culture.