The Positive Impact of Using Local Language as a Medium of Instruction in Primary Schools in Zambia
Author(s): Loveness Makota Banda, Marvin Kabubi
Abstract: This article is an extract of one of the objectives from the Master study entitled “The impact of teaching in local languages: a case study of selected primary schools in Chipata District, Eastern province of Zambia”. The background of this study is anchored on the poor literacy levels of primary schools from grade one to four as a result of using a foreign language (English) as a medium of instruction. Now that primary schools have introduced local language as medium of instruction, this study assessed the academic performance of pupils in primary schools especially from grade one to four in selected primary schools of Chipata District. In achieving this task the study employed a case study research design which adopted both qualitative and quantitative paradigms. Data was collected through semi-structured questionnaires for all respondents. The sample comprised of 50 participants. A simple random and purposive sampling procedure was used to select pupils, teachers and administrators respectively. Thematic analysis was used to analyse qualitative data while STATA and excel was used to analyse quantitative data. The study therefore revealed that an African child learning to read in English will face the same problems as an individual who is learning a new language. Language divergence is a crucial factor in learning and reading failure among school going children. The more divergence there is between the dialect of a learner and the dialect of the learning the more difficult will be the task of learning. The vernacular speaking child has to make correspondence between the forms he already controls both receptively and productively and the forms found in primers as well as those used in teaching and reading instructions by the teacher. These differences in forms may be the most crucial for beginning literacy instructions during which the child is supposed to learn how to “crack the code”. Therefore, this study gave more valid reasons as to why using local language as a medium of instruction is better than using English as a medium of instruction. The following recommendations emerged from the study. (1) The government through the Ministry of General Education should build many schools to cope with this increase in enrolments. (2) The government through the Ministry of General Education should print the books and other materials in local languages for easy teaching and proper use of words. (3) The government through the Ministry of General Education should increase the funding to primary schools to meet the needs of the primary schools. (5) The government through the Ministry of General Education should train teachers in colleges on how to teach in local languages. (6) The government through the Ministry of General Education should retrain teachers in local languages so that they can teach effectively. (7) The teacher should be able to speak three to four languages so as to help implement local languages in schools.