Democracy and the eductation system of Botswana: Towards linguistic pluralism
The importance of languages in education and in the other important sectors of human interaction and development does not seem to have been an issue in the definition and practice of democracy in Botswana. Although the country claims to be democratic and hosts over twenty five ethnic languages, it does not see the need to accord them official recognition, let alone introduce them in education even as evidence of giving its citizenry democratic (human) rights. Only English (the official language) and Setswana (the national language) are used in education and government business. In the education sector, these two languages are and have been used as the sole languages of school even in areas predominant with learners from non-Setswana or English speaking communities. Apart from disadvantaging learners educationally and creating problems related to cognitive development, this denies learners whose languages are unacceptable certain human rights. For these, the ideals of democracy appear rather lofty and superficial at best or irrelevant at worst. This paper examines this question of languages of education and how the ideals of democracy are made ineffective when it comes to educational provisions.
Keywords: education, democracy, linguistic pluralism, nation building, curriculum, teacher training, mother tongue
MARANG: Journal of Language and Literature Vol. 17 2007: pp. 43-52