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Teaching in mother tongues will improve learning - traditional leaders

Teaching pupils in their mother tongues and incorporating tradition and pre-colonial history could result in an improved pass rate across the board, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa said.

General-secretary Zolani Mkiva said they had identified gaps with the current education curriculum wherein traditional aspects and pre-colonial history could be added.

"Our pre-colonial history is important; the upcoming generations need to know where we come from. It cannot be right that development and the modern way of looking at things came with the Europeans we also had our ways of developing which have fallen by the wayside."

"We need to let our children explore the indigenous wisdom which was there before, and want them to be streamlined into the curriculum so it is not forgotten as decades pass."

He said it was a major priority for the organisation and the National Heritage Council. "We believe the IQ and intellect of our people is better tested when they use their mother tongue it takes longer for one to learn in a foreign language and we believe we will see much better results across the board for our learners if they are taught in their languages."

Mkiva said they would pilot the programme in one province and would engage the Department of Basic Education on the approach. "We will look at various critical subjects such as history and life orientation, and learner support material so we can contribute to prescribed reading and ultimately decolonise our education system."

He said they would also spread it to other provinces depending on how the pilot project goes and as they deliberate on more ways to infuse traditional history into the curriculum.

Unisa Acting Vice-Principal of Teaching, Learning, Community Engagement and Student Support, Prof Veronica McKay, agreed and said learning in one’s mother tongue could help pupils understand better and improve their marks.

She said that in urban schools which are diversified there would be some difficulty but in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal where most pupils speak IsiZulu, it could work, or in the Eastern Cape where most speak IsiXhosa, but Gauteng, which was a melting pot of languages, would prove to be difficult to implement.

"We are even seeing universities trying it. In the University of KwaZulu-Natal they have some classes in Zulu, the University of Limpopo has some classes in Sepedi. Unisa is getting material in 11 languages at the lower levels such as first year and material in high failing courses to facilitate better understanding. Glossaries and question papers at first-year level also come in 11 languages."

She said there was also positive feedback from students on the implemented changes and they were working to see how they could incorporate the languages to make it easier for them to comprehend and work better.

* By Liam Ngobeni | Published 17 March 2020

This article first appeared in the Pretoria News and is used by permission. You can read the original here.

Publish date: 2020-03-22 00:00:00.0