Namibia: Minister Stresses Importance of English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jun 3 18:16:43 UTC 2008

Minister Stresses Importance of English

New Era (Windhoek)

2 June 2008
Posted to the web 2 June 2008

By Frederick Philander

Deputy Minister of Education Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo says the importance
of the English language locally, nationally and internationally cannot
be overemphasized. She was the keynote speaker at a two-day conference
of the English Teachers' Association (NETA) at the Polytechnic of
Namibia on Friday. "There are Namibian languages that must be
developed and used as media of instruction in schools. As a result, a
bilingual education system is advocated whereby every learner is
expected to do first the mother tongue, plus the official language
(English)," Ndjoze-Ojo said. In addition, learners could also choose
to do a foreign language such as (French or German etc.) if they so
wish. "Language imposition of any language on learners who are mother
tongue (e.g. OtjiHerero, OshiNdonga, Nama, etc.) speakers of other
languages has been done away with. It is pertinent to stress that this
policy, due to linguistic sensitivities and sentimentalism, must be
adhered to at all times," she said. According to her the development
of indigenous languages has started in earnest.

"Eleven languages are already being used as media of instruction in
schools. Namibia has adopted the policy of 'Transitional
Bilingualism", of an exit model whereby learners are taught through
their mother tongue up until Grade Four so that they can develop their
academic skills at an early age and thereby build a strong foundation
for second language learning. They then switch over to English.
However, this policy is currently being reviewed in line with the
latest linguistic research that advocates the non-exit model," she
asserted. English is the lingua franca in many parts of the world.

"Moreover, the importance of English as a library language and the
language of commerce cannot be denied. Nevertheless, the need to bring
on board the development of indigenous languages and their use as
media of instruction in school should be seen as advantageous to the
learning of the official language, English," she sad. The key to the
development of a nation lies in the hands of educators, because they
prepare the upcoming generation to face the challenges of the future.
"English teachers therefore have a very important role to play, not
just in teaching English and promoting the language, but also in
nation-building using language as a tool. English teachers must work
extra hard and creatively to improve the level of failure that is
worrying all of us," she said. In her view networking is critical.

"Often teachers in rural areas find themselves isolated and cannot
share their concerns with colleagues. An association will be a good
way to bring together teachers from all parts of the country to
exchange ideas. Sometimes there are very creative teachers, whose work
goes unrecognised because nobody outside of their immediate
environment knows about the teaching methods that they use and the
successes they obtain. "Networking would be a good way to bring
together all teachers, so that they have a sense of connectivity and
belonging to an association of which they have ownership and have
built it up by contributing to it," she concluded.

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