Impact of perception and attitude towards the study of African languages on Human Resource needs: A case for Zimbabwe

  • Ruth Babra Gora University of Zimbabwe
  • Davie Elias Mutasa University of South Africa


This article argues that the Zimbabwean high school curriculum has remained largely irrelevant to human resource needs for professions that draw expertise from African languages, such as teaching, translating, broadcasting and interpreting. Despite some curriculum reforms after the attainment of political independence, effects of colonial language policy and language planning with regard to the Zimbabwean education system seem to have remained intact. As a result, observations have been made that the system continues to churn out Africans who are still deeply rooted in the belief that the study of foreign languages, English in particular, prepares them for a better and brighter future than African languages would. The belief is largely that a pass in English guarantees them better, higher-paying, more prestigious and more readily available jobs than would African languages. The education system in Zimbabwe today, this paper argues, has negative perceptions and attitudes towards the study of African languages. African languages-related professions are therefore filled by people with little or no sound background knowledge in the area. In addition, those who end up being absorbed in professions that draw from the African languages area, in most cases, are not satisfied. The same can be said of most other African countries that were subjected to colonialism in the past and neo-colonialism today, under the vague and obscure concepts of globalisation and modernisation. Against this backdrop, the article advocates for the re-engineering of the Zimbabwean school core-curriculum by incorporating mandatory study of an indigenous language, at least up to ‘O’ level, in a bid to preserve and promote African languages and at the same time meet human resource needs of professions that draw from the discipline over time.

Author Biographies

Ruth Babra Gora, University of Zimbabwe
Ruth Babra Gora is a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe in the Department of Curriculum and Arts Education. She has published in a number of academic journals and has also contributed some book chapters. Her research interests are in language policy and planning, language and gender, and language and teacher education.Email:
Davie Elias Mutasa, University of South Africa
Davie Mutasa is a professor in the department of African Languages at the University of South Africa. He has published on the Shona language and language planning. He has presented papers in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, The Netherlands, Jamaica, Australia, Malaysia, the USA, Hawaii, China and Norway. He has supervised more than 30 postgraduate students. He was invited by the former Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, to address the department and serve as one of the advisors on language policy. He featured on radio discussing language matters and has creative works in the form of three Shona novels. Email: