Botswana cultural organizations promote mother tongue languages

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jun 3 13:34:11 UTC 2005

Nkate praises cultural organs
02 June, 2005

GABORONE - Education minister, Jacob Nkate has praised cultural
organisations, which continue to promote mother tongue languages. Though
he said his ministry has no portfolio responsibility for language
policies, Nkate encouraged such groups to use his ministrys facilities in
rural areas. The minister said at the opening of a two-day Regional Mother
Tongue Conference yesterday that regarding policy my ministry is engaging
the Office of the President, which has the portfolio responsibility for
language policy.

Nkate also said serious shortage of facilities at primary level is one of
the hinderances as some children are still being taught under trees while
some teachers continue to share accommodation. The conference organised by
the University of Botswana and other stakeholders is held under the theme
Multilingualism in South African Education: Celebrating and Sharing
experiences and Practices. It is conducted by leading professionals in the
field of mother language development from South Africa, Namibia and

Nkate said it is through mother tongue language that young people could
socialise better in order to retain and promote their culture, adding that
countries such as South Africa and Namibia are already ahead of Botswana.
It is, therefore, interesting that this conference is a good opportunity
for Botswana to follow-suit in the same way as these countries, he added.
He also said even the recommendation of the Revised National Policy on
Education (RNPE) or the Kedikilwe Commission suggested for the
introduction of a third language in the school curriculum.

The commission, however, in its report indicated that only six languages
out of 26 spoken in Botswana were sufficiently developed to offer
possibilities of being taught. Giving a keynote address, Professor Kwesi
Prah, who is the Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies of African
Society (CASAS) in South Africa, said it is easy to tackle the problem of
language development in Africa, particularly Southern Africa, because the
region is well resourced. He said language is the main pillar in culture
and that in order to tackle the issue of language development, governments
should take deliberate moves and address those endangered cultures and
languages in their regions.

He said research has shown that in 100 years, 90 per cent of the languages
spoken would have become extinct Participants will critically interrogate
issues related to the extent to which literacy among minority languages,
especially San language has developed and to look into successes,
challenges and solutions regarding the implementation of mother tongue

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