Presentation of the Welcoming Address at the Okahandja 1996 conference for readers of the Bisharat! web site. Return to Basic Documents.

Regional Workshop on Cross-Border Languages

National Institute for Educational Development (NIED)

Okahandja, 23-27 September 1996

Welcoming Address

Patti Swarts


National Institute for Educational Development (NIED)

I have the singular honour to welcome you all to the second workshop in a series on African languages in education organised by the National Institute for Educational Development of the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture and held in cooperation with the German Foundation for International Development and supported by the University of Namibia. Last year from 18 - 24 September the first workshop was held with the theme "African Languages in Basic Education". This first workshop was very useful and informative as its preparation entailed a comprehensive survey of all the African languages which are used as languages of learning and teaching in lower primary grades and literacy groups. The interviews and other methods of research familiarised the researchers and language developers with the problems, constraints and challenges, as well as the achievements. The papers presented and the discussions culminated in the formulation of important and far-reaching recommendations which will provide the framework for a detailed plan of action. It also resulted in a publication which will be launched at this workshop by the Honourable Minister of Basic Education and Culture.

This second workshop will build on the results and accomplishments of the first. The emphasis this time is on those African Languages we share with our neighbours, i.e. Setswana (Botswana and South Africa), Silozi (Zambia) and Oshikwanyama (Angola). During the course of this week the delegates will discuss issues of mutual concern, possible areas of support and collaboration and also come up with concrete plans as to how to realise the above. Hopefully this will not be the last workshop of this kind to be held between the participating countries. I look forward to another one at which we will discuss - Namibia, Botswana, South Africa - the development of the San languages.

There will be more workshops concerning the African languages in education, but I would like to see them shift from the policy formulation arena to the implementation of these policies in the classroom. I wish to see the next workshop involving our teachers in the African languages in developing practical, user-friendly, creative and innovative materials for teaching and learning. Namibian educators realize that "Education for All" cannot be reached in our time or ever without the strengthening and maintenance of the national languages - the languages spoken by the majority of the people. Our efforts should be geared towards raising the status of our indigenous languages through vigorous campaigns on all fronts, e.g. proper, proactive and visionary language planning, research, equitable and appropriate allocation of resources, teacher education geared towards the promotion of national languages and responsive policies.

Allow me also to thank all of you for having responded so positively to our invitation to attend the opening session. I also wish to thank our Minister for his unconditional support, the German Government and the DSE for their generous support, the Department of African Languages at the University of Namibia, in particular Prof Karsten Leg¨¨re, for their support, the Committee which organized the workshop over the last months, in particular Mrs Angelica Tjoutuku and Mr Richard Trewby, and the delegations to this workshop. The deliberations over the next few days will yield much food for thought and will hopefully stimulate closer cooperation and new developments.

I wish you all once again a warm welcome.

Text source: Cross-border languages : reports and studies, Regional Workshop on Cross-Border Languages, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja, 23-27 September 1996 / edited by K. Legere. Windhoek : Gamsberg Macmillan, 1998. With thanks to Prof. Karsten Legere.

Okahandja 1996 :   Programme   Welcome   Opening   Recommendations   Closing

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