Assessing the implementation of the language policy of using Chinyanja as the medium of instruction in lower primary schools in Chilanga District Education Board, Zambia
In 2014, the Ministry of Education introduced a revised education curriculum, which saw the use of local languages as mediums of instruction as well as languages for teaching initial literacy from Pre-School to Grade 4. The Permanent Secretary said that the purposes of the review included among other things re-defining the language policy in order to enhance the teaching and learning process. He further stated that English language was going to be introduced as a subject at Grade 2 but continue to be used as a language of instruction from Grade 5 to tertiary level. He also announced that the National Literacy Strategy was followed by development of instructional material for teaching initial literacy in all the seven official Zambian languages. The purpose of the study was to assess the implementation of the language policy of using Chinyanja as the medium of instruction in lower primary schools in Chilanga District, Zambia. The specific objectives of the study were: • To assess teacher competency in the use of indigenous language i.e. Chinyanja as a medium of instruction in lower primary school in Chilanga District. • To ascertain the availability of learning and teaching materials written in indigenous language in the schools in Chilanga District where the policy is being implemented. • To determine the level of acceptance of Chinyanja as a language of instruction in the study site by stake-holders whose mother tongue is different. The language-in-education policy, which advocates mother tongue-based learning, has the potential to make primary education contextually located and locally accessible, particularly to ethnic minorities and marginalized groups, thereby improving the reach and quality of education. The research comprised both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Primary quantitative data was collected through the use of a structured questionnaire for teachers teaching at pre-school and lower primary school. In addition, one FGD comprising parents and guardians was conducted to get their views on the policy. Official policy documents and reports were used as important secondary data sources. Two key informants were interviewed at the Chilanga DEBS. The study revealed that policy implementation is hampered by incompetency in the use local language by some teachers, misgivings over the choice of local language by some stake holders and to some extent the non-availability of teaching and learning materials at some schools.