MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga quizzed Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora over the deployment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers in Matabeleland.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This follows complaints by parents in Binga last month that teachers who do not speak Tonga or Ndebele had been deployed at different primary schools in the district.
“The Constitution states that all the 16 languages are supposed to be used at par, but what happens when we have a situation whereby the teacher who is teaching in that district is not able to speak the language that is spoken in that area?” Misihairabwi-Mushonga queried.
“We have realised that this has caused a low pass rate, especially in such areas where indigenous languages are spoken because it is people who come from Mashonaland who are deployed to teach in Matabeleland.”
But Dokora rubbished claims that lower pass rates were caused by deployment of teachers who did not speak local languages.
“To associate language and failure on a one-to-one relationship is misleading and is not educational in terms of an analysis of this phenomenon of pass rates or performance of learners. If it were true that it is on a one-to-one relationship, I would be getting 100% passes in those areas where the teacher is a mother language speaker of that area,” he said.
“While I have a lot of sympathy for the infant school module where I am conscious of the fact that we must communicate to these children in as homely and appropriate language as we can, it cannot be done in a dramatic fashion. I do not think as a country we can actually say we should fire teachers on account of language.”
He said 322 teachers were already undergoing training through the Great Zimbabwe University in various languages – Shangaan, Nambya, Tonga and others.
Dokora said it was better to have trained teachers teaching ECD even if they could not speak the mother tongue of the area rather than untrained teachers.
“The trained human resources will find ways and means including the use of the English language in limited vocabulary range as they train and interact with the children in the infant school module.”