In a country like South Africa, with its history of colonialism and Apartheid, English is often viewed as the language of the oppressor. But on a practical level English is recognised as one of the major international languages, and as such is a vital tool in advancing in life – so why would anyone not want to learn it? Imagine trying to grasp complex subjects like maths and science in English when your home language is Zulu, or having the progression of your mother tongue stopped in its tracks when you enter school at the age of five? There is also the obvious link between language and culture, and how people run the risk of losing who they are when they lose the ability to converse in the language of their ancestors. For this reason the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Basic Education have teamed up to start the process of translating textbooks into isiZulu. The decision was announced earlier this year as part of International Mother Language Day, and the plan is to identify schools in the province where the programme will be piloted.
We look forward to following the progress of this crucial project which will not only help to contribute to the socio-economic upliftment of previously marginalised sectors, but will also go a way to helping people to hold onto the story of their people, where they’ve come from, and the direction they move going forward.