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SWAPO language policy a disaster

A study has recommended the revision of the 1993 language policy for schools following the recent shocking revelation that 98% of teachers were not fluent in English.
A research study, facilitated by Urban Trust Namibia (UTN) says the Ministry of Education should re-address the 1993 language policy. UTN research on low success rates in education shows that, among all the efforts that the Ministry of Education is making to improve success rates, the one thing that it is not doing is considering the language policy, published in 1993.
According to Priscilla Harris, who conducted the study, the current language policy needs to be reviewed, especially key areas of the policy such as home language learning, which should be extended to grade five or grade seven rather than grade three.
Harris said that although there have been many calls for review of the language policy for schools since it was published in 1993, the Ministry of Education has consistently refused to review it.
“In 2002, the Ministry went through extensive consultations towards a review but the conclusions were never adopted. Since that time the National Institute for Educational Development has sought changes as part of curriculum review, without success.”
She added: “Beyond that specific change, it is more a question of implementation, including training of all teachers in the lower grades in home language teaching. It is not sufficient for a teacher to simply be a speaker of the home language,” she said.
Although the current policy makes provision for children to be taught in indigenous languages from grade one to three, findings show that parents often opt for schools that teach in English early in the system.
According to Harris, senior politicians and educationalists based in Windhoek believe that the policy is right but their colleagues in the regions say the policy is not working.
In order to address the challenges, Harris proposes that a review that fully engage teachers, parents and learners to capture their ideas and reflect the reality of schools in the different parts of the country should be conducted.
The research study, which outlines the challenges of language policy in Namibia, is set for release in December.

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