Mother tongue in schools: Pie in the sky


FRANCISTOWN: While President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised Batswana during the 2019 campaign trail for the general election that mother tongue languages will be taught in some schools in the country, that seems to be a pipe dream.

The idea of introducing some indigenous languages in certain schools in Botswana was conceived by the opposition a long time back while the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) vehemently opposed it. However, in the build up to the 2019 general election, the BDP included the use of some indigenous languages as a medium of instruction in its manifesto. Even after the elections, the BDP made several promises at various platforms telling the nation that mother tongue languages will be used in some schools this year.

Therefore, it was not surprising for the Leader of Opposition (LOO) Dumelang Saleshando to recently take a jab at the BDP during his response to Masisi’ State of the Nation Address that the party was a copycat of opposition ideas since it initially denied the use of mother tongue in schools only to make a U-turn and embrace it. Languages which were set to be introduced in the beginning of this year are Sheyeyi, ThiMbukushu, Ikalanga, Shekgalagari, Chikuhane (Sesubiya), IsiNdebele, Afrikaans, Naro (Sesarwa), Shona, Otjiherero and Sign Language. The languages were supposed to be used from pre-primary level until Standard Two in a bid to allow for smooth transition of learners. Lo and behold, when the primary schools reopened this week, it became apparent that the use of some indigenous languages is still a pie in the sky.

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