Spelling bees triumph

2018-06-21 06:02
Winners for Indigenous Languages Spelling Competition. From left: Thina Mtsolongo(Vuyani primary), Buhle Maqhubela (John Pama primary), Amyoli Raqa (Masivuke primary) all for Xhosa catergory, Project Coordinator for Children Literature Program for SA’ Centre for the Book, Phakama Matoti, Director for Usiba Loluntu Sandile Banjwa, Malesea Lebenya, Karabo Matsabisa and Molefe Makhetha all from Lehlohonolo primary school. PHOTO: USIBA LOLUNTU

Winners for Indigenous Languages Spelling Competition. From left: Thina Mtsolongo(Vuyani primary), Buhle Maqhubela (John Pama primary), Amyoli Raqa (Masivuke primary) all for Xhosa catergory, Project Coordinator for Children Literature Program for SA’ Centre for the Book, Phakama Matoti, Director for Usiba Loluntu Sandile Banjwa, Malesea Lebenya, Karabo Matsabisa and Molefe Makhetha all from Lehlohonolo primary school. PHOTO: USIBA LOLUNTU

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In an attempt to promote and conserve indigenous languages in primary schools, the Usiba Loluntu organisation, together with the National Library of South Africa’s Centre for the Book, held an Indigenous Spelling Competition at Ikhwezi Community Hall in Gugulethu on Youth Day.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage learners to be proud of their languages­.

Schools that participated included Luzuko, Vuyani, Vukukhanye, Siyazingisa and Lehlohonolo primary schools from Gugulethu, Hopolang from Khayelitsha, Siyabulela, from Langa, Masivuke in Philippi and John Pama in Nyanga.

The target was mainly learners in grades 4 to 7.

Subject advisors from the provincial Department of Education acted as adjudicators for the event and they included Nosisa Beyile, Dr Loyiso Mletshe from the University of Western Cape, in the IsiXhosa section, while Drs Rethabile Phosa and Mantoa Motiyane, both lectures from University of Cape Town, adjudicated for the seSotho speakers.

The competition is an annual event, which was initiated in 2017 by Usiba Laluntu, after they noticed the decline of vernacular languages in schools.

“When we started the competition, we were only focusing on Xhosa speaking learners in Gugulethu schools. But, this year, we added Sotho schools and broadened the scope to other areas such as Nyanga, Philippi, Khayelitsha and Langa,” said the project coordinator for the Children Literature Program at the National Library of South Africa’s Centre for the Book, Phakama Matoti.

She said the decline in vernacular languages in the communities concerned them because that can compel young people to lose their identity.

“We noticed that many people, especially learners, are looking down on their mother tongues and preferred to speak English because they thought it was cool.

“We want them (learners) to be fluent and master their languages because if they don’t, our languages are going to be extinct,” said Matoti.

She said as the National Library Centre, their mission is to advocate writing and publishing­.

Sandile Banjwa, of Usiba Loluntu, explained that they were searching other avenues to develop the competition.

“These are the finals of the competition. We started in early May, with each school bringing about 15 learners, to compete against other learners.

“From these, about five winners from each school are chosen.

“The winners will go away with a trophy and medal from both categories. All the participants will get certificates,” said Banjwa.

He emphasised that the trophy trophies are for the winners to take home.

He said they aimed to expand the contest.

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