Kemmonye C. Monaka, Tshiamiso V. Moumakwa, Sidney Mothei


The training of teachers for indigenous languages in Botswana mirrors the language in education policy which recommends only two languages for school, of which Setswana is the only indigenous language. In addition to English, teachers are trained to teach Setswana only. This paper argues that in spite of this, pre-eminence is given to English through print, information delivery, weighting (i.e. hours per week), level at which the languages are introduced and used in school, etc. It observes that no practical steps are taken by the government or other interested bodies to address the favor towards English vis-à-vis Setswana that prevails. Such emphasis and lack of action creates a risk situation for Setswana, which is also the national language of the country. The paper also addresses the fact that the other languages are rejected in the education system; there are no teachers trained to teach these languages in school, and no materials are produced in the languages. The paper argues that consideration needs to be made for other indigenous languages in Botswana‟s education system. There are indicators that seem to suggest gradual movement in this direction, such as the speech made by the Minister for Education at the Mother Tongue Conference of June 2005; the resolutions made at the Regional Mother Tongue conference in June 2005, the resolution of the National Setswana Conference of June 22-24, 2006; RNPE recommendation 32; the Support Programme for Education in Remote Areas (SPERA) which, at the time, had the backing of the then Minister for Education, and other statements by influential people in the country. These are elaborated on in the paper. It is hoped that the realisation of linguistic pluralism in the country at large and in the education system in particular will facilitate the training of teachers of/for other languages in the country as well as the production of materials in these marginalised languages.

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