The use of english as a new medium of instruction in schools: a case of Groupe scolaire Saint Jerome Janja and Ecole Des sciences De Musanze in Gakenke and Musanze districts in Rwanda.

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Twizerimana, Alphonse
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The University of Zambia
Rwanda has had French as the National language and Medium of Instruction before and after gaining her independence from Belgium. The country migrated from French as a Medium of Instruction to English in 2009 and has continued to use English as the official language and the Medium of Instruction in Education. It is with this background that this study was conducted taking an exploration design to establish the views from various stakeholders on the use of English as the Medium of Instruction in schools in Rwanda, a country which has used French as the medium of instruction as a former French colony as stated above. The study makes an attempt to establish the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats( a SWOT analysis) of the new language policy to the country based on the various perspectives from various stakeholders ranging from teachers, parents, pupils, Ministry of Education officials and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOS). The data for this study was collected using qualitative research methodology. The methods used to collect data were interviews, Focus Group Discussion, and Document analysis. The findings revealed that most of the teachers implementing the policy were not well prepared for the policy in terms of training and some capacity professional development. The study further established that as a result of this lack of training on the part of teachers, they have been implementing the policy as part of their own training on the job, implying that they are learning together with their learners. The study has also established that despite the slightly longer period of implementing this policy, communicative competence and proficiency have not reached desired levels yet. The study also found that there were insufficient qualified teachers and the situation is further worsened with inadequate teaching and learning materials, meaning that the new language policy is operating in a less conducive English learning environment. The study found out that the only place where English language is employed is the ‘classroom’ as both teachers and pupils migrate to Kinyarwanda once outside the doors of the classrooms. The study also found out that even in the same classrooms, there were a lot code switching and code mixing by both teachers and learners in order to put across the intended meaning or message. Majority of the respondents claimed that they were code switching and code mixing rather than keeping quiet or use only Kinyarwanda than facing embarrassment of speaking in broken English. However, despite these challenges, the majority of the respondents expressed enthusiasm and optimism towards the use of English as the medium of instruction and hoped that they would improve with time as they saw many advantages and benefits within and outside the country more so that the majority of Rwanda’s neighbours use English as the official language and the medium of instruction in the education systems. This study has recommended that teachers must be given adequate training in English language and that teaching and learning materials in English must be provided so that the environment is conducive for the implementation of the new policy. The study recommends that more sensitization is done to all stakeholders on the need to support the new policy as it offered a number of opportunities such as easy trade with neighbouring member countries. The study has also recommended that there must be exchange programmes and educational trips by both teachers and learners to the neighbouring countries where English is the official language so that they are immersed in an environment that is conducive to the learning of the new language. The study has recommended further comprehensible research, away from the mere establishing the various views of various stakeholders to the actual implementation of this policy at various education levels ranging from primary, secondary, tertiary and University levels to establish the effectiveness of the implantation of the new policy.
Language policy challenges.