Zambia makes learning of local language compulsory in primary education

20:10, June 23, 2010      

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The Zambian government has said children will be required to take a local language alongside English from grade one to four to help them learn initial basic skills of reading and writing local languages, local media reported on Wednesday.

Recently, traditional leaders said there was need for the use of local languages foe teaching purposes in schools. Currently, the teaching of local languages is not compulsory in Zambian schools.

Minster of Education Dora Siliya said when she made a presentation to the traditional leaders that the local languages the pupils will be taking will not necessarily have to be their mother tongue but ones spoken by the vast majority of people in a given area of the country, the Zambia Daily Mail reported.

According to the minister, the government introduced a primary reading program to foster initial literacy and numeracy skills of learners in grade in a local language, adding that the program was a success with a huge impact on reading levels among pupils following its evaluation in 2003.

The program was scaled up in 2003 because of its success and was implemented in more than 4, 000 government schools and 74 community schools. The program also saw the development of literacy books in seven local languages, according to Daily Mail.

She however said the use of all Zambian languages will be impracticable as the country was multi-lingual, adding that apart from the country being a multi-lingual society, teaching all local languages will have cost implications. Zambia has 72 local languages.

She further said the problem will even be compounded by the lack of teachers who were able to teach in a variety of languages but she pointed out that English would continue to be the country' s official language.

Source: Xinhua


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