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'Masisi Should Act On Mother Tongue Promise'

CHAKALISA DUBE
Masisi
MAFUNGO/HUBONA: President Mokgweetsi Masisi should live up to his campaign promise that under his leadership government will embrace the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction in local public primary schools, says Kgosi Tendai Manyiwa.

Kgosi Manyiwa of Mafungo/Hubona made the call during a kgotla meeting addressed by the area legislator Fidelis Molao here recently.

“Masisi should start showing commitment towards introducing mother tongue as the medium of instruction in local public primary schools. He should prioritise mother tongue in schools,” said Manyiwa.

He said that delaying the use of mother tongue as the main medium of instruction will create strong impressions that Masisi made his promises for political expediency.

Manyiwa added that the importance of embracing mother tongue as a medium of instruction in primary schools is something that has been widely accepted by progressive nations and it has been proven that the intervention greatly improves learning in schools.

For this reason, he said Botswana must urgently introduce mother tongue as a medium of instruction in primary schools.

In response Molao, who is also the Minister of Basic Education noted that the government under Masisi is committed to making sure that mother tongue becomes the main medium of instruction in local public primary schools.

“The government will soon begin consultations with members of the public and various stakeholders. The aim of the consultations will be to ensure that the government devises a sound policy in relation to the introduction of mother tongue as the main medium of instruction in local schools,” he said.

During his campaign to seek re-election for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ahead of the 2019 general elections, Masisi said under

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his leadership learners most notably in public primary schools would be allowed to use their first language as a medium of instruction. Masisi noted that his government would prioritise the introduction of mother tongue as the medium of instruction in public primary schools.

Before Masisi took over as the President, the BDP-led government constantly shunned calls to introduce mother tongue as a medium of instruction in local schools.

Amongst others, the party said the move would not be entirely practical, as in order to initiate it, there would be need to strongly build the competence of teachers in order for them to adjust to the changes (teaching learners using their first language).

Furthermore, the party cited lack of resources to overhaul the education policy and retraining teachers in order for them to effectively teach learners in mother tongue.

The opposition has often argued that the imposition of Setswana as the only medium of instruction in primary schools has contributed significantly to a high level of dropouts and failing amongst non-Tswana speaking children. The opposition also said that high school dropouts and poor results were caused by the facts that learners struggle to learn using Setswana.  The opposition has also often stated that the country has the resources to introduce mother tongue as the medium of instruction in schools adding that the benefits of introducing mother tongue as the medium of instruction far outweighed the costs.



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