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Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora has threatened to withdraw operating licences of some private schools that do not include indigenous languages in their curricula. Speaking after addressing students at the Joint Command and Staff Course Number 28 at the Zimbabwe Staff College on Tuesday, Dr Dokora said the teaching of indigenous languages, especially at primary level, was a constitutional requirement.

Without naming the actual schools, Dr Dokora said there were about 22 private schools that were still to comply with the requirement.

“Private schools must conform in learning local languages,” he said.

“They have already remodelled themselves to include the new Early Childhood Development (ECD) into their systems.

“We have constitutional provisions and the assignment of that Act is within my ministry. We can withdraw the licence of any private school that flouts the constitutional mandate to incorporate local languages.”

Dr Dokora was responding to a question from one of the students at the Staff College on what he was doing to ensure that schools complied with the policy of using indigenous languages as the medium of instruction during early primary schooling.

He said language is important as it is passed on from generation to generation.

“These invisible or ‘intangible’ practices or heritage such as language, culture, popular song, literature or dress, are as important in helping us to understand who we are, as well as understanding the tangibles such as buildings and objects,” said Dr Dokora.

Dr Dokora said the new Constitution gives prominence to local languages as stated in Chapter 1 Section 6, which says the State must promote and aance the use of all languages used in Zimbabwe, including sign language, and must create conditions for the development of those languages.

He said his ministry recruited 220 teachers who are studying minority languages at the University of Zimbabwe to bolster the learning and teaching of indigenous languages.

Source : The Herald