Perceptions of various stakeholders on the effectiveness of the implementation of the new language policy of using zonal languages as the languages of instructions from grades1-4 with particular reference to Emmasdale zone, Lusaka district.

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Daka, Gabriel
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The University of Zambia
The aim of the study was to establish the perceptions of various stakeholders on the effectiveness of the implementation of the new language policy of using zonal languages as the Language of Instructions in Grades 1-4 by grade teachers in Emmasdale zone in Lusaka district. One of the universal educational goals of the United Nations is the provision of quality universal basic education and education cannot be said to be quality if the learners’ levels of literacy (reading and writing) are below their standards. In order to achieve this goal, this study recognized the significance of the learners’ own language as language of instruction and emphasized on sound implementation of the new language policies, known as the Primary Literacy Programme (PLP), of using zonal language as LoI from Grade 1-4. A descriptive case study design along with qualitative methodology was used to collect and analyse data. A conceptual framework was used to guide on how the study would be carried out. The Verhoeve’s (1994) theory of the six models of literacy instruction was used as a theoretical framework of the study. In-depth interviews, Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) and classroom observations were the primary data collection methods used. While secondary data collection involved perusing relevant literature from the journal articles, internet, books and other relevant documents. Random sampling for teachers and Purposive sampling for the following: NGOs, Churches and the District Education Manager; headteachers and parents were used to select the participants for the study and out of the ten zones in Lusaka district one zone called Emmasdale zone was elected by the researcher as the study site. All the 9 schools in the zone were involved in the study. The study revealed that the perceptions of various stakeholders were that, if PLP were to be effectively implemented by the grade teachers in grades 1-4, pupils’ literacy levels would greatly improve. However, they perceived the following challenges to be the hindrances to the grade teachers’ effective implementation of the PLP in grades 1-4: overcrowded classrooms; reduced learning hours; inadequate instructional materials such as Chinyanja books; lack of proficiency in standard Chinyanja by the grade teachers and the pupils; and dependency on Teacher Group Meetings and workshops to train teachers to implement the PLP. The study further revealed that those stakeholders perceived the following to be the possible solutions to the challenges: building more school and increasing the number of classrooms in already existing ones; supplying primary schools with adequate instructional materials and different stakeholders coming on board to help the ministry with the provision of instruction materials; producing Chinyanja dictionaries; revising the standard Chinyanja which is recommended to be used as LoI to match with the Chinyanja which children use as language of play; teachers to be trained at language zonal level using the zonal language in colleges and universities; and grade teachers to be innovative and collaborative and not to depend entirely on the ministry for the books and other instructional materials. The study revealed that if all these solutions were worked on the resulting factor would be, improved proficiency of the children in Chinyanja and consequently, very easy for them to gain reading skills in Chinyanja and the same skills would be transferred to English. Finally, the study made further recommendations: parents needed to be sensitized in the PLP; Chinyanja should be used as LoI from pre-school to grade 3 and then English should take over from grade 4 onwards. It further recommended that the Ministry of Education should give money to schools to buy instructional materials on their own instead of giving them the materials in what they called Free Education Materials (FEMs).
Language and education--Zambia. , Language policy--Zambia.