Chiredzi — Minority communities southeast of Zimbabwe in Chiredzi are advocating for the introduction of their languages in the school curriculum and the hiring of teachers conversant in the language.
The VaTsonga, commonly known as 'Shangaan' communities want this to be central to the devolution process initiated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration.
"Government must stop this trend of deploying teachers who don't speak our language (Tsonga)," said Jerry Masiya, a local leader standing in for Chief Tshovani, during a devolution discussion meeting in Chiredzi.
He called for the hiring of VaTsonga or Shangaan teachers to enable the language to be taught from early child development stage to high school.
"The current situation where non-VaTsonga (Shangaan) speaking teachers are being employed in local schools has not only left the Shangaan tribe shortchanged in terms of their culture but has left the whole tribe divided," Masiya argued.
Speaking during the same occasion, Chiredzi South Member of Parliament (MP), Kallisto Gwanetsa, said Shangaan is one of the 16 languages recognised under Zimbabwe's new Constitution (2013) hence the need for the language to be taught in local schools.
"Government must deploy teachers to areas they are familiar with and this Shangaan area is not exceptional," the legislator said.
Gwanetsa noted the issue could be resolved if local graduates from universities were hired to teach.
"There are teachers who are being trained this language in some colleges and universities in this country. Most of them are unemployed. The government must prioritise these graduates to take up teaching jobs in local schools," Gwanetsa said.
Tauya Makuza, the Senior Public Service Commission officer for Masvingo Province, said the policy of the government was to deploy teachers to areas where they can work without language barriers.
"My office shall look into the matter and solve this amicably," Makuza assured.
Provincial Minister of State Affairs, Ezra Chadzamira, who presided over the meeting in Chiredzi, said the Public Service Commission must place teachers in areas whose language and cultures they are conversant in.
"Language must not be a barrier between teachers and students. It is thus important to have teachers that share the language and culture with students," Chadzamira said.