In 2023, a close friend and I initiated after-school Oshiwambo lessons for children aged six to eight.
The response was overwhelming. However, parents faced a significant challenge in managing their children’s participation in these Oshikwanyama and Oshindonga classes alongside other extracurricular activities.
It’s disheartening to see eager parents willing to have their children learn their native languages, but having to pay for it when it could be integrated into the mainstream school curriculum.
Upon investigation, I discovered that schools at Katutura offer a few languages, like Afrikaans, Khoekhoegowab, Oshindonga, Oshikwanyama, Otjiherero, etc.
However, in every other constituency, only Afrikaans is offered. Consequently, if one wishes to enrol their child in a school teaching their language, other than Afrikaans, they must choose a school in the Tobias Hainyeko constituency. This situation has persisted for some considerable time, despite Windhoek’s cultural diversity.
Our survey among Oshiwambo speaking parents indicated strong interest, with over 100 parents willing to enrol their children in our after-school classes. This clearly demonstrates significant demand.
I believe it’s time to address this issue in 2024. Secondary schools like Concordia College, Ella du Plessis High School, and Windhoek High School offer languages beyond Afrikaans.
This model can be replicated in primary schools. It’s unfair that most children have no choice but to learn Afrikaans, as their native languages are not available in other schools.
We could consider introducing at least two government schools in Windhoek offering languages like Otjiherero, in addition to Afrikaans. Similarly, two other schools could offer Oshikwanyama, another two Oshindonga and several others could introduce languages such as Silozi and Rukwangali.
The reality is that we need to take action to accommodate all languages in our diverse city. Continuing to offer only Afrikaans would adversely affect other mother tongues in the long run.
Let’s initiate this conversation this year and work towards implementing changes next year.
Preserving our indigenous languages is crucial for our cultural heritage.
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