Teaching in Local Language a farce
by Mazuba Mwiinga
"Its not the chances we take, but the choices we make that will determine our destiny". Dr. Kenneth Kaunda
AM I the only lost sheep or Jew in Jerusalem? No prizes for guessing what Iam trying to act up. Where is the sense or Am I the only one insane? How does it help someone's aptitude of reasoning; or am I the only bastard around. Really I cant cogitate, if I have to be George Mpombo with words for once; how being taught in my native or is it ethinic Tonga will make me more creative, more intelligent, more fastidious and understand lessons better. Explain to me, or else Iam adamant with my notion; not because I hate vernacular, but because I think we need to raise our heads higher than we want our children to.
So what happens to the Queen's language in Lower Primary? The mere fact that I started struggling speaking English at an eary Grade as one, today makes me proud to write it and speak it like I was born with it. Today Iam able to speak even better than some Englishman who breached the 'Nature, Nurture Controversy' law which says that language is inborn but must be learned.
The fact that Iam Tonga by birth does not make me a better Tonga speaking man or an expert in Tonga language; though my case may be different because of-course Iam an expert because I learnt this same Tonga language that I was born with. So teaching my children in Tonga all the subjects with a notion that it will make them understand these subjects better is an illusion because our school curriculum is European based, no matter how much we will try to localise it.
Wait a minute? What is 'Science' in Tonga or in your language? I know you will need an A4 page just to 'name' Science. And if you need to 'explain' in 'naming' something, how long will be the defination itself? 'Today we want to talk about the rain cycle'. Isnt this laughable when you come think of it?
Teaching our children in vernacular at a lower level of their education is such a backward idea. At a time when I thought we needed to start French, Latin, Spanish lessons in Kinder garten schools, is when we think of our local languages as a medium of instructions to these highly spirited boys and girls who have always wanted to go to school so they can learn the Queen's language. Iam hurt to the bone murrow because I dont see any logic in this; or am I from the new school of thought? The school of Global family where you take advantage of the weak brains to advance yourself?
By the gypsy fact that we are able to speak the 'whiteman's language puts us at a higher level of education because the whiteman doesnt understand our language, rendering him a 'loser'. Learning in your own language for four years, and to be reverted back to English when you were just gripping your foundational understanding of concepts will just make these innocent souls crazy because the first fours of education in a child's growth are very important for a child's grasping of issues he or she needs to advance in life.
Why is it that everything we knew of in the Old School of reasoning is being upheld this time around when we are supposed to be talking about advancing our mental faculties into brighter and more advanced areas of thinking. This is a Computer Age; an age of invention, creative thought and exchange of ideas at an Universal level. Our community is nolonger monolic.
We live in a world of globalisation where a medium of communication is such a fundamental norm in the life of a person. Situations are there in countries being refered to where local languages are being used as a means of instructions in lower Schools;these pupils are being prepared for the local market where there are no jobs, because they cant excel their trades to other countries because of language barriers. I have seen alot of Zimbabwean youths with sharp technical skills, end up being garders in Zambia because they are unable to communicate with their prospective employers due to their being taught in Shona or Ndebele and understand their trades in their respective languages.
The first four years of lower primary school is a cardinal and sensitive time in a child's life where grasping things is concerned. No wonder today we have problems with people from the old school in terms of delivering their messages to the world community despite their being highly learned. They mis-pronounce words, they struggle to express themselves in other Languages that are used at a global level; yet they are highly educated.
Emphasis be put here that, learning your local language and being taught in your local language in all the subjects, are two different things. Remember the first cut is the deepest. What you expose the children first is the thing that will stick in thier sharp mind. And to change it at a later stage will need another five or six years to settle. And by that time these pupils will have to be writing serious compositions in English for them to pass the English language which is compulsory for certification.
Isnt it infact such a paradox or thorny irony that for one to get a Grade 7, Grade 9 and even School Certificate they have to pass English Language, yet you teach these children in a local language that will mean nothing to them in future, instead of exposing them to English at an early stage so that they get familiar with it as they grow; rather than putting so much pressure for them to learn how to speak and write English Language later in education so that they get certified. A poor background in everything that one does, always becomes a hussle to deal with in later stages.
Zambia needs to learn, and learn so wisely. The same thing they are supporting today is just the same as the things they supported in 2011 which today have so bad effects on our lives. Be it put on record that, our today's choices are our tomorrow's lives.
Dr. Kenneth Kaunda once said, "Its not the chances we take, but the choices we make that will determine our destiny".