Govt sets aside $9m for publication of indigenous books

The Chronicle

By Chronicle Reporter

24 March 2013

THE Government has set aside $9 million for the publication of indigenous language books under the Education Transition Fund (ETF).

Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart on Wednesday said the funding was meant to encourage the development of local language writers.

This comes on the background of a general fear across the country that local languages are under threat as there are few writers to preserve them.

“Generally there is a shortage of writers in local languages not only for minority languages but for Shona and IsiNdebele,” said Minister Coltart.

“Our policy as a Government is to ensure that languages are given prominence and treated equally. To achieve this there is a need to write and publish more books in local languages.

“In that regard my ministry has set aside $9 million for local language writers under ETF.”

Traditional leaders and lobby groups have also expressed concern over low pass rates in local languages and implored the Government to take urgent steps to protect languages.

Contacted for comment, King Lobengula’s descendent and cultural activist, Mr Peter Zwide Kalanga Khumalo said books were the medium of cultural preservation.

“We commend the Government for taking such steps to promote local languages. Lack of local language writers can result in the death of our culture.

“The ministry should reinvigorate local language writers in schools by teaching all languages with emphasis on preserving culture.

“Schools should establish budding writers’ clubs and identify talented writers in their communities who would inspire the pupils and give them writing skills.

“This would be a more practical and pro-active way of preserving our languages and the Government should avail funding to sponsor such initiatives,” said Mr Khumalo

There have also been calls for the Government to have affirmation on enrolment of local language teacher training institutions with the view of beefing up qualified staff who would teach these languages in school.