CCJP applauds recognition of Tonga

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe joins the Tonga speaking people in celebrating the official recognition of their mother tongue- Tonga through its public testing at Grade 7 level by the Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture in 2011. At the same time, CCJPZ recognises the efforts made by its sister organisation, Silveira House, for initiating advocacy and lobby processes culminating to this success.

Language is a very important tool for communication and the preservation of own culture. The history of any people is passed on through its language and defines the identity, origin and aspirations of its speakers. To deny or look down upon any people’s language is a denial of their right to identity and existence. As said by one traditional leader ‘a people without a language are like a tree without roots’. The Tonga language, like any other Zimbabwe local languages deserves such recognition as a way of fostering national unity, cohesion and respect for diversity.

The Government of National Unity (GNU) through the Minister of Education, Sports. Arts and Culture, David Coltart should be commended for taking a bold decision to officially recognise the Tonga language through its testing in the 2011 Grade 7 examinations. CCJPZ acknowledge the efforts of Silveira House and other organisations that have contributed to the translation and development of the curriculum and literature for Tonga language. We look forward to official recognition and speedy translation of curricular and learning materials for other minority languages like Shangani, Venda, Nambya, Kalanga and Chewa and their consequent learning and testing even up to degree level..

However, what remains is the recognition of these languages in the new constitution. If the new constitution does not guarantee teaching and testing of these languages in the areas they are spoken, this achievement will go nowhere. CCJPZ recommends explicit clauses in the new constitution that mandates our educational institutions to teach and examine these languages.

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