Teachers' perceptions on the use of local languages as medium of instruction from grade 1-4 in selected Private Schools of Lusaka
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The study focuses on the perceptions of teachers on the use of local languages as Medium of Instruction (MoI) from grades 1 to 4 in selected private schools in Lusaka. This study was prompted by the 2013 new language policy in education in Zambia, which holds that the use of local languages for initial literacy enhances a quick and solid acquisition of literacy skills which can later be applied in learning a second language. The local languages approved as MoI in the Zambian educational curriculum are based on the 1965 language zoning when the country was divided into zones. Lusaka province, for instance was zoned as a Chinyanja speaking area. The study comprised 62 informants. 15 of these were administrators, 1 curriculum development officer, 6 parents and 40 Grades 1 and 2 teachers. The study employed qualitative research design. The findings of the study revealed that there was an emerging line divide between what could be termed as „local language‟ private schools and „English language‟ private schools. The private schools that have applied the new language policy of using the local language as the MoI are the ones referred to as „local language private schools‟ and the ones that are still using English as MoI as „English language private schools‟. Fears expressed were that this may have a serious implication on enrolment later in that one of the so called English language private schools may have an influx of learners enrolling while the so called local language private schools may have fewer pupils enrolling. The study established that the stratification was influenced by several factors such as the community in which a school is located, the status attributed to a certain language and the attitude by teachers and stakeholders. The study further revealed that schools located in urban Lusaka opted for English as MoI because it is the language commonly used in the homes of the children who are mostly foreigners and the elite Zambian. Sub urban schools were in favor of Nyanja as MoI because it is their language of play. The study noted that while English was out rightly preferred to be MoI by urban private schools, the sub urban private schools chose Nyanja but claimed that there was need to employ code switching as MoI. The fears to let go of English as expressed by the sub urban private schools could be deriving from the notion that anything with a local tug is considered inferior in Zambia. Besides, the use of local languages is taken as indication that one is less educated while those who use English, v on the other hand, enjoy a favorable status as is it considered to be the language of the elite and the educated. There is need for policy planners to recognize and value research as they formulate policies such as the NLP. There is also need for the curriculum development center (CDC) to spearhead efforts towards giving local languages a status. This matter must to be treated with serious urgency in Zambia as it would help change the prevailing situation where English dominance is the order of the day in private schools and indeed other sectors of society. This is worsened by the fact that English is the determining subject for any upward progression of pupils up to University. Lastly, there may also be need for the Ministry of Education through the Permanent Secretary to reinforce the issue of policy exemptions given to some private schools whose children are mostly foreigners. A window may still be created for few children in these schools who struggle with English to use any familiar local language. There may be need to change the usual language of five “o” levels with English to five “o” levels with a language as passing subjects in promotion examinations to grades 9 and 12 and to University and colleges.
SubjectLanguage and languages-Zambia
- Education