The KwaZulu-Natal Departments of Arts and Culture and Basic Education will soon embark on a pilot programme that will see a number of textbooks being translated into isiZulu to accommodate learners who speak it as their first language.

This was announced yesterday during celebrations of International Mother Tongue Day, marked annually on 21st February, hosted in the small town of Grey, 150 kilometres outside of Durban.

“Language plays a critical role in ensuring quality education for our children. However, in view of the fact that our learners are taught in English at school, which is not their mother tongue, they struggle to grasp what they are being taught” KZN MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha said.

“It is precisely for this reason that we are going to work together with the Department of Basic Education in the next financial year to identify learning material and text books that will be translated into isiZulu,” she added.

The two departments are currently identifying schools where the pilot will take place.

This is not the first time a programme to promote isiZulu in education has been launched in the coastal province, beginning in 2014, the University of KwaZulu-Natal made isiZulu a compulsory subject for all first year’s, regardless of the course they were enrolling for.

Sibhidla-Saphetha urged education and language experts to support the move.

“There is a saying that no country can be developed on the basis of a borrowed language. Therefore, we view this programme as a significant step of transforming the socio-economic conditions of our people,” she said.

Details on who will be translating the materials, which grades will be targeted and how much it will cost, are yet to emerge.

[Source – SA Government News Agency, image – CC Wikimedia Commons]