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Mbembesi villagers resist non-Ndebele teachers

PARENTS of pupils at Mbembesi Primary School in Insiza, Matabeleland South province, on Saturday demonstrated against the deployment of teachers who do not speak local languages.

The area is dominated by Ndebele, Xhosa, Kalanga, Tonga and Venda speakers.

Villagers, who spoke to NewsDay yesterday, said they had been complaining about the deployment of teachers who were non-conversant with local languages, particularly Ndebele.

Parents said no action had been taken although their children barely understood what they were being taught by teachers who were not competent in local languages.

"Our kids complain that they do not understand anything that is being taught as language has become a barrier," a villager, Silomuzi Nyoni, said.

"The majority of teachers who work in Mbembesi don't understand and speak Ndebele. This has created misunderstanding between teachers and parents. Some students do not understand Ndebele or English because they speak languages such as Xhosa, Kalanga, Tonga and Venda," he added.

Another villager said parents gathered in Sonji village in Insiza district where they sang in protest, telling teachers that they were not happy about their work.

"They also said language barriers were contributing to the decline in Grade 7 and Ordinary Level pass rates in Matabeleland," a villager said.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said his ministry was yet to receive a report on the demonstrations.

"As for the demonstrations, we haven't received a report yet, but what we normally recommend is that students at junior level should not have any problems with whether the teacher speaks local languages or not.

"We only make sure that students from Early Childhood Development up to Grade 3 are the ones who should have a teacher who is from the local area and is able to speak their language. Any student from Grade 3 up to secondary level has to adjust to the situation," Ndoro said.

In 2020, Matabeleland pressure groups complained that the region continued to experience 0% pass rates at schools, and called for government intervention to ensure that all schools across the country's 10 provinces are equally and adequately resourced.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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