"Mother Tongue Project Distributes Thousands of Books" (Namibia)

Don Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Thu Apr 19 17:50:17 UTC 2007

The following item from the Windhoek paper, New Era, was seen on
AllAfrica.com at http://allafrica.com/stories/200703051089.html .  Don

Namibia: Mother Tongue Project Distributes Thousands of Books
New Era (Windhoek)
March 5, 2007
Posted to the web March 5, 2007

Wezi Tjaronda

Some 750 000 teaching and learning textbooks from Grades 1 to 3 have been
distributed to schools since the start of the Basic Education Programme
(BEP) Upgrading African Languages Project (Afrila) in October 2000, which
has improved the textbook learner ratio.

The project aimed at improving literacy and numeracy in learners in the
mother tongue and also to promote the acquisition of English as a second
language before English becomes the medium of instruction from Grade 4

It is believed that the language spoken at home by a learner is an important
prerequisite to success in learning. The project has developed new teaching
and learning materials in six target languages, namely, Kukwangali, Rumanyo,
Thimbukushu, Otjiherero, Silozi and Khoekhoegowab, but also in Oshindonga
and Oshikwanyama for grades 1 to 3.

Last month, the Afrila project launched literacy, mathematics and
environmental studies textbooks for grades 1 to 3 in six target languages.
The textbooks are based on the revised lower primary curriculum and the new
subject syllabus, to contribute to the strengthening of mother tongue
education in the foundation phase.

Launching the books, Undersecretary for Formal Education in the Ministry of
Education, Alfred Ilukena, said language was the most important tool for
thinking, a means of communication and one of the most important aspects of

"A high level of communication in one's language is a prerequisite in a
knowledge-based society," he said.

Ilukena said learners also learnt best through their mother tongues in the
formative years of schooling and would master English if they have mastered
their mother tongue first.

"The purpose of the lower primary phase is to lay a foundation for learning
throughout the formal education system. If the foundation which is laid in
these four years is good, the learners will be well prepared to continue
learning," he said, adding that this would also enable children to develop
self-confidence and self-worth through personal and social development
during this phase.

The Afrila project coordinator, Andreas Schott, who also bade farewell since
the project has come to an end, said the project supported the ministry and
NIED to implement the Language Policy for Schools to improve the quality of
mother tongue education in the lower primary phase.

The project has made available over 350 publications.

"This in itself should alone increase the effectiveness of teaching in the
lower primary classroom combined with a learner-centred pedagogy in which
the textbooks are the basis as the guiding pedagogical paradigm," said

However, he recommended that an impact study be conducted to determine how
the materials have improved the performance of the learners and also that
the ministry should incorporate necessary activities for mother tongue
education in the lower primary phase into ETSIP planning through a second
language policy and a feasible textbook policy.

The project was financed by the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ).

Copyright C 2007 New Era. All rights reserved.
Maeura Office Park, 1st Floor, West Wing, Windhoek
09 264 61 273300
info at newera.com.na

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