Teachers’ colleges students to learn 3 local languages

Professor Amon Murwira

Professor Amon Murwira

Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
STUDENTS at teachers’ colleges are now required to learn at least three indigenous languages to ensure that they can be deployed anywhere in the country, a Cabinet Minister said yesterday.

The new policy takes effect when the next intake of students starts and principals at teachers’ colleges have already been told about the changes. The country’s Constitution adopted in 2013 recognises 16 official languages.

Addressing academics during a tour of Solusi University, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Professor Amon Murwira, said this was a new policy introduced by his Ministry.

“All our students when they are learning must learn at least three languages so that as a Zimbabwean you can go and communicate with elders anywhere in the country.

We are saying besides your mother tongue that you were born with, you must learn three others in the Constitution. You can see it in South Africa, it’s not part of the education system but if you are in Gauteng Province, you can speak any language,” said Prof Murwira.

“Why should I have myself talking in English and being translated to somewhere down in Bulilima, it’s not quite right so we want to take practical steps.

“The future is now so we are going to do it because it’s constitutional and so we must make sure everybody in teachers’ colleges does it.

“I don’t know how practical it is in universities but it’s so practical for teachers’ colleges that they already start doing that because we’ve had problems where teachers are teaching Grade One and they are speaking in English. It’s not right. Surely we can solve this, it’s very easy actually.”

In Matabeleland provinces, some educationists and analysts have said the language issue was partly to blame for the poor pass rate in the region.

The issue of non-Ndebele speaking teachers has been brought up at a number of fora and Government has since decided to address it.

Prof Murwira said the policy shift in terms of languages was meant to ensure diversity and inclusivity regardless of ethnic background.

“So we want to start a culture of inclusivity. From Zambezi to Limpopo from Hwange to Mutare it’s ours, so we must be comfortable in every centimetre of the country and it comes from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. If we don’t do this, nobody will do it. This is the vision we are having for languages and its constitutional, it’s just will power which was not there so will power is there full time,” he said.

Prof Murwira encouraged academics to work hard for the good of the country. — @AuxiliaK.

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  • Rufi

    not enough. this should go down to schools too. all primary schools at the very least should teach the languages too.

    • Fed up Shona

      Mthwakazi people or whatever you call yourselves, Get over yourselves and stop blaming Shona people for not speaking Ndebele! We all know the reason. It is because you people were not educated and as a result very few of you went to teachers’ colleges to end up as teachers. I think you people should shape up and see yourselves as Zimbabweans or else ship out and go back to South Africa! Everyone knows that you are the greatest tribalists! You still bask in the Tshaka glory! Rubbish! We are fed up with you people. You say you dont want Shona speaking people in your regional offices! Then educate yourselves and get those jobs! Nxaaaaa!

      • Essexvale

        So very self-assured in your lies. You know very well that the poor educational record for our region is not as a result of laziness or unwillingness of the local people to get an education. The real reason is the skewered systems, put into place by the shona dominated government over the past 37 years, that are aimed at empowering your tribe in all facets of life, at the expense of the Ndebele people. Your smugness is foundered on this knowledge and nothing more. You make me sick to my gut …. you pathetic pretender!!!

        • World Citizen

          So what is wrong with everyone learning 2 local languages? Why do you see conspiracy in everything? You complain everyday that Shona people are arrogant and dont want to learn Ndebele and when the govt wants to put a policy to enable that to happen you complain? You complain that the teachers in Matland schools cannot speak the language and when the govt wants to correct that you complain? It is clear that you only glory in complaining and dont really care for solutions. You complain every which way the govt addresses the situation it is clear your complaining is merely passing the time and shouldnt be taken seriously. As a shona person who learnt Ndebele in my adulthood because I worked in Matland, I would have welcomed the chance to learn this language earlier in a formal environment the same way i learnt English. When people call you a cry baby you complain but what are you doing really? And to think you call yourself a respectable person, one wonders what you smoke.

          • shona rinosvika kure

            u r very right gaya.. how big is matebeleland… its tiny in other words minority u cant be equal to mashonas they occupy almost 3quaters of zimbabwe and why do u blame everything kumashoma??? Tongas Vendas variko are they not zimbabweans… minority minority stop it

  • Mthwakazian

    This should start at primary school level. It would be difficult for a trainee teacher to master 3 local languages among other things in 2-3 years. There would be a drop in admissions at teacher training colleges. This is huge undertaking, no one would sign up for this. They should reduce it to one. When in Belvedere Teachers college eg if your mother tongue is Shona, you learn Ndebele and vice versa in Bulawayo. Mastering 3 local languages can only be done beginning at primary school level.

    • Marandure

      Am from Chinhoyi. my kid doing Grade 2 at Sinoia pimary is learning Ndebele and is so overjoyed that sometimes at home he converse with me in that language. the only problem is Ndebele teachers as the school is not adequately staffed with teachers who can ably teach the language.


        Government can augmented the country’s Ndebele/Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Setswana, Venda, Tonga, Shangaan/Tsonga teaching resources through govt to govt agreements with our neighbouring countries South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. They have done it with Cuba in the past in the area of medical personnel such as Doctors. They can equally do it in the language teaching area. The Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo already has morever or less similar arrangements with the University of Venda in Thohoyandou SA in other cultural areas such as the historic Mapungubwe vs the Zimbabwe ruins.

        • Cetshwayo kaGodlwayo

          You’re talking nonsense, I won’t be dragged into insulting your mother for giving birth to a dunderhead like you, msun’kanyoko


            Who is dragging you little Pikinini?


      But why should Shona be taught to Matland people? Most of us know it already and we have never needed classroom teaching for that. You can do a survey – very few people learnt Shona in class. They just learn it because they are an open minded people. Go to Gauteng – President Ramaphosa speaks all the 11 official languages of SA and I can assure you; he never learnt those in class. The same applies to most South African’s. The problem is among the Shona; not the rest of the Zimbabweans. That is where government focus should be!

      • Mthwakazi

        You are wrong mdidi kaNyoko


          Matebeleland people did not learn the Shona language in class. That is the truth. We dont need Shona language lessons in Mthwakazi – we already know the language. Its the Shonas who need Ndebele lessons – Ndebele and other Matland languages should be taught in Shona Schools. It appears Shonas are incapable of learning an African language outside a classroom setting. Insults will never change iqiniso – nawe uyazi!!

  • mtshayisa

    With SHONA as a compulsory one I guess

    • Tymon Thwala

      Your tribalistic mid-morning hallucination is nauseating.

      • zibulo

        ngu u nausea wangakhona!!! tribalism glaring in your face , mthwakazi region education down due to tribalism, employment patterns in MTHWAKAZI tribal, kanti ungumthengisi yini? yeka ukuthuka amam victims. mwe might talk too much but it doesn t mean there is no tribalism. its a crime what happens to education in Mthwakazi , with children being prepared to fail by being taught at prim ary by shona teachers. Voetsek

      • THE TRUTH

        Impimpi le!!

  • m. c.

    rather the language issue should be taught from Primary Schools … it would be too late for adults

    • Njomane

      Not too late though. Most people came into south africa in their mid twenties and thirties but now speak sotho, zulu, venda etc fluently.

  • Bekezela Moyo

    Minister is confused for real….language development usukhulile sibili can not be a solution to be deployed anyway around the country….rather promote abanikazi bendawo befunde kumacolleges besebe deploywa kuzindawo duze lakibo….

    • Thabo Mpeky

      Exactly…I just see the same tribalism ekaMgabe being promoted by the new govt. With this policy they will be able to deploy all Shona teachers across the country

  • Sandura1

    Teach those languages starting at junior primary. It is easier to master a language at young age.

  • Ton van Der Parker

    Learning a different language should be an individual choice not a forced thing by the illegitimate government of the day? How will that solve issues of poor translation of articles by those who think they know a language that is not their mother tongue? The minister is clearly running the ministry in a dictatorship manner? Have they done any consultation about this ? They are forcing students to learn a language which means the students would not have any interest lor passion about that language but doing so being of the “ command “ learning. This country is becoming communist soon all The liberties would be removed and the R of Zim would be like North Korea.


  • Tayedza

    How can you become a dictator within such a short space of time.

  • Gatsheni

    No this policy is not good at all. Why not have a policy where u train more people from that particular area who have spoken the language since birth so that they can teach in their areas. I still see that element of wanting to deploy Shona teachers everywhere and promote employment for them at the expense of other tribes especially the Mthwakazi tribes. Besides in these teachers colleges even in Mthwakazi the Shonas are the ones being trained there…so this works very well to achieve the agenda of annihilating other tribes

  • Twice

    Please we have been imaginalized enough. We DO NOT want this system to happen. All regional offices in Matabeleland are now occupied by people from Mashonaland. We don’t feel at home anymore when we visit these offices. We will not allow this system to happen in primary schools. Please Mr Minister, don’t lead your ministry with dictatorship. How could one learn to be fluent in a particular language in a period of 3 years, whereas 50% of ‘O’ Level exam writers fail to pass their mother language? I studied German language for 6 years and attained B2 Diploma in German language, but still, a seven year old German child can speak the language better than I do. Please Mr New Minister, don’t too excited about your current post. How could a Ndebele primary teacher transfer from Lupane to Chipinge? And how could one from Chipinge do the same thing? We know, we are the minority, but don’t oppress us. Please let the primary schools and regional offices be occupied by the people of that region. These people mess our names in passport and IDs. This is the time we start to regret loosing Jonathan Moyo. We don’t want an oppresser, please.


      There is no need for teaching Shona in Matland Schools. Its a ruse for formalising Shona domination. Why should we be taught something that we already know and have never struggle to learn anyway?

      If anything; its the Shona people in Mashonaland who need Ndebele language lessons in their schools.

      They cant learn a language without a teacher!!

  • Roscoe

    Seems every new minister comes up with wild wishes….handei tione


    If the truth be told; in Zimbabwe, the problem of African languages is a Shona problem, not a Matebeleland problem. Government should learn one lesson in life – you can never solve a problem, if you can not diagnose the source or cause of the problem. We in Matebeleland/Mthwakazi know the Shona language. It is the Shona people who dont know the Ndebele language. Period.

    Please stop trying to “equalise” the problem across the country when you know that, that is not the case. If its not broken, dont fix it. In other words, dont ficx what is not broken in Matebeleland. Its that simple. Nothing is broken in Mthwakazi when it comes to the issue of African languages. Instead things are broken in Shona provinces – government should focus in those areas!!