The Ministry of Education’s ambitious plan of introducing the mother tongue as the teaching medium has been put on hold till its goes to parliament for scrutiny and possible approval before it is implemented.
An ample phase-in plan for the implementation of mother tongue as a medium of instruction from Pre-primary to grade 5 was supposed to be developed and introduced the same time as the introduction of the advance level (A-level) as it was part of the discussions that took place on the curriculum reform for formal basic education.
Minister of Education, David Namwandi told The Villager this week, that they are busy with consultations in the regions before the mother tongue as a medium of instruction is implemented. The minister, however, refused to comment further until they have received all the information.
“We have sent a request to the cabinet and we are waiting for its approval and after all the consultations in the regions, they can come revert back to us. Until further notice, I cannot say much on the issue of mother tongue because it is a sensitive issue and until everything has been finalised, I cannot say much on it,” Namwandi.
The mother tongue as a medium of instruction was supposed to be implemented in the Junior Primary phase and the language should be the child’s Mother Tongue or a predominant local language. On the other hand, remaining in the current organisation with seven promotional subjects is the curriculum for Pre-primary and grades 1-3.
According to the curriculum proposal done by the MOE, the Junior Primary phase was supposed to consist of; the Mother Tongue as the medium of Instruction from pre-primary to grade 5, English, Mother Tongue/predominant local language, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Arts, Physical Education and Religious and Moral Education.
“The Junior Secondary phase was supposed to consist of 9 promotional subjects, six core promotional subjects and three elective promotional subjects (another language and two technical and vocational subjects) and five support subjects,” said Namwandi.
First, second, another language or a foreign language is the elective subjects and the language policy states that the use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the influential years of schooling from Pre-primary to grade 5 is needed and it should be used continually as a school subject in further education.
Namwandi said: “Mother tongue undoubtedly plays a positive and crucial role in the acquisition of any second language, example English in the case of Namibia,” adding “English will therefore be used in its official capacity as a medium of instruction and assessment throughout the education system in state schools as from grade six onwards,”.
Since Grades 6 and 7 are intermediate years in which the mother tongue plays a helpful part in the teaching process. A solid foundation in the mother tongue is believed to enhance the attainment of the second language, and in this event the official language, English.