Windhoek-Cabinet has approved and directed the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, to table the revised language policy for schools when the National Assembly resumes next month.
The Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, announced the cabinet decision last Friday.
The revised document intends to promote the use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the formative years of schooling (Grades 1-3) and its continued use as a school subject in further education.
Simataa emphasized that the mother tongue undoubtedly plays a crucial role in the acquisition of any second language, being English in the case of Namibia.
He said the language policy has been in existence for a very long time and it must therefore be revised based on current demands and emerging changes.
“The current language policy has been revised accordingly so that the policy is in tune with realities that prevail in Namibia. The policy reaffirms the need for mother tongue instruction at junior primary level. When all of us are born, the language that we imitate is our mother tongue. Even when I started to cry as a young man, I had to cry in the language of my mother and father,” Simataa said.
According to the language policy, proficiency in English does not automatically ensure effective participation in society.
It is indicated that one is rather considered an effective participant in society if one can communicate and use all the functional tools in their mother tongue to their personal advantage and social benefit. The document further states the use of English as a language of wider communication will further enhance greater participation in social welfare activities.
It is against this background that the new policy document, titled Language Policy for Schools in Namibia, was revised.
English will therefore be used in its official capacity as a medium of instruction and assessment throughout the education system in public schools as from Grade 4 onwards.
Nothing in the policy will prevent a learner taking English, a foreign language and a Namibian language, if one of the languages is taken on either first or second language level.
The first-language level options available are Afrikaans, English, German Ju|’hoansi, Khoekhoegowab, Oshikwanyama, Oshindonga, Otjiherero, Rukwangali Rumanyo, Setswana, Silozi, Thimbukushu, while second-language level options are Afrikaans and English.
The document states other second languages will be developed according to demand.
Foreign-language level options are French, German or Portuguese.
The policy states all these languages will have the same weighting for promotional purposes.
Simataa said Cabinet also approved the revised Namibia Arts, Culture and Heritage Policy and directed the same minister to table the said policy in the National Assembly.
The mission of government in arts and culture is to promote unity in diversity, to give all Namibians a sense of identity and pride in their own creative talents, and to improve the quality of life as well as safeguard, extend and promote the country’s physical, linguistic and spiritual heritage.