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ITHUBA certification ceremony speech, 8 August 2008 speeches

 ITHUBA certification ceremony speech, 8 August 2008

Remarks by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the certification ceremony for the ITHUBA writing project, University of Pretoria , Pretoria .

8 August 2008

Professor Nthabiseng Ogude, Vice-Rector of the University of Pretoria


President Ricardo Romo , President of the University of Texas at San Antonio

Professor Ima Eloff, Dean of Education

Dr Misty Sailors, Director of the Ithuba Writing Project

My colleagues from DoE

Distinguished guests

Honourable teachers

Ladies and Gentlemen

I'm pleased to join you at this certification ceremony.

For those of you who do not know, the ITHUBA Project is a joint venture between the DoE, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the USAID. The project promotes and facilitates the writing of story books for the Intermediate Phase, but with particular emphasis on African languages, namely, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Sepedi, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Isindebele, Siswati, Sesotho, and Setswana.

When this project is complete, approximately 2.3 million books will have been distributed to the schools throughout the nine provinces.

Now that, by all standards, is massive.

I would like to thank the University of Pretoria , particularly the Faculty of Education, for playing a pivotal role in organizing this ceremony. Likewise, many thanks go to USAID and President Ricardo Romo and his team for their commitment and continuous support in the development of literacy material in South Africa .

Today, we are here to recognize the teachers who worked tirelessly during the development of the stories for the project. Altogether 122 author-teachers or teacher-authors or just authors will receive the completion certificates; whilst 18 others will receive the participation certificates. The 18 will however receive the completion certificates after the attendance of the third workshop.

Ms Becker told me that ten credits will be awarded for the hours of work completed in the development of storybooks. These credits will count towards further study such as in Advanced Certificate in Education as approved by the Board of Faculty.

This is a tremendous achievement both for the project and the teachers.

Language and literacy are at the very heart of personal and collective identity. Yet too many of our children simply do not read at the age-appropriate level.

In this regard, South Africa has to do better in promoting literacy. It is rare to find schools with well resourced libraries. Most classrooms have no books. Most homes have no books. What is even more disturbing is that books in African languages are scarce - so children do not get the opportunity to read in their home languages.

Our collaboration with the University of Texas at San Antonio and USAID in the writing of the ITHUBA story books aims redress these book and learner material gaps. We have to create a print-rich environment so that our children can be exposed to a wide range of ideas and resources that are written not only in foreign languages, but in their home languages as well.

Very recently, I was pleased to receive a publication from the Publishers Association of South Africa entitled Writing In Nine Tongues . This is a collection of literature and reader titles in nine African languages of South Africa . My pleasure was however short lived - I discovered that there were only 4,000 titles in those nine indigenous languages.

The challenge of developing adequate and quality materials in all our official languages is a real one and it affects the curriculum in many instances.

Our education system encourages learners to be active learners.

Active learning does not happen in a classroom where the teacher and one textbook are the only sources of information!

It requires learners to interact with a wide range of learning resources to produce quality work. At the same time, teachers also need to interact with an equally wide range of learning and teaching resources when preparing their lessons.

That is why it is so important for all of us to support such initiatives as ITHUBA.

Our Language-in-Education Policy is premised on the principle that mother tongue instruction, especially in the early years of schooling, is essential for concept building and cultural absorption. As you may expect, this is only possible where a particular mother tongue has sufficient and relevant reading resources to draw from.

By increasing the reading resources in indigenous languages in the way that the ITHUBA Project is attempting to do, we will be fulfilling a United Nations Declaration which states that

Children belonging to the peoples concerned shall, wherever practicable, be taught to read and write in their own indigenous language or in the language most commonly used by the group to which they belong. When this is not practicable, the competent authorities shall undertake consultations with these peoples with a view to the adoption of measures to achieve this objective. Adequate measures shall be taken to ensure that these people have the opportunity to attain fluency in the national language or in one of the official languages of the country. Measures shall be taken to preserve and promote the development and practice of the indigenous languages of the peoples concerned.

[Article 28]

Mother-tongue instruction presupposes that there are sufficient reading materials from which learners can learn.

As we all know, this is not so in the case of African languages of South Africa . The stories you have authored are about your experiences and therefore should find resonance with your learners and fellow teachers in the classrooms.

Recently, the Department of Education launched the “Drop All and Read” campaign. The campaign encourages all schools to put aside an additional half an hour per day to “Drop All and Read”.

The aim of the campaign is to create a culture of reading in the classroom and in the school. Everyone – from learner to teacher to principal to support staff – should read for half an hour every day. If learners enjoy reading, this will raise literacy levels and improve the ability of learners to learn. Again, this can only happen when there are sufficient reading materials to choose from.

The ITHUBA books are an attempt to close that gap.

I congratulate the author-teachers once more.

I hope that you will write many more books.

You have learned the skills of writing, of documenting your everyday experiences. Go share them with your fellow teachers and together let us work towards turning this nation into a nation of life-long readers with sufficient and relevant resources in all official languages.

Congratulations once more!!!

Ngi ya bonga, Ke a leboga,

Thank you.

 

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Written By: Pat Bulling
Date Posted: 9/29/2009
Number of Views: 1867

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