The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Mother Tongue Day to Be Observed

THE Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (Wimsa), in partnership with the Southern Africa San Education Forum (SASEF), joins Unesco today to celebrate International Mother Language Day under the theme 'Mother Language Day: What does it mean to the San Child'.

Regional education advisor Maria Tharacky Namupala said they are celebrating the day with Wimsa to celebrate the diversity of languages spoken across the world, including the San languages spoken in Southern Africa.

"We can put it in practice through our daily life, for instance biodiversity is critical for nature, so too is linguistic diversity critical for sustainable development," she said.

Namupala said this day is important for all stakeholders in education.

"We see mother-tongue education as critical to improve learning in early years of life. As an individual learner it builds up what has already been taught to me at home or in our community," she said.

Namupala said if learning can take place in a child's mother tongue during early years of kindergarten, early childhood development and primary schools then it makes learning easier for a child.

"Evidence shows learning in mother-tongue skills are easier transferable to learn other languages as well. Alternatively children learning in an environment within a new language or new concept can be a big challenge, including the San child. And the questions they have in their mind is: 'Our languages were spoken long before any of the other people were here. Why is it then that all others are written but ours not?'," she said.

"Till today, a great number of our San languages lack written form, yet the development of orthography is available, but there is a need for stakeholder support in this matter for materials production to promote the use of mother tongue in our environment and schools," Namupala said.

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