Uganda: Dons criticize new language curriculum

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Oct 9 16:58:10 UTC 2008

Dons criticize new language curriculum
Wednesday, 8th October, 2008  E-mail article    Print article

By Conan Businge

LANGUAGE lecturers at Makerere University have criticised the
education ministry's proposed new curriculum for secondary schools,
saying it would worsen the quality of education in the country. Dons
from Makerere's Institute of Languages said the curriculum is likely
to undermine some language departments in universities if implemented.
They argued in a letter to the education ministry that secondary
schools would stop producing students ready to study language at the
university level. The letter was signed by the acting director of
Makerere's institute, Oswald Ndoleriire, and copied to the President,
Prime Minister, and other relevant ministries and organisations.

The lecturers were reacting to a new curriculum proposed by the
Ministry of Education. The curriculum was halted late last month after
causing a public outcry. The education ministry proposal would
allocate six periods per week of instruction for English and
two-to-three periods per week for Kiswahili and Luganda. The
professors said giving less time to local languages would undermine
students' ability to learn how to write in their local languages.
"The writing of the local language curriculum and training language
teachers will lose meaning," the dons' letter said.

"We wonder where and how the ministry will redeploy these teachers,"
the dons said. They also said this would make teachers of these
languages redundant. They argued that the goal of simplifying
communication through languages that people know best would be eroded.
"The policy would have a debilitating effect on the book industry,
print and electronic media," they said. "Research in our immensely
rich indigenous knowledge that requires significant knowledge of local
languages would also be at stake."

The letter also suggested: "The field of translation and
interpretation would be grossly crippled, and will endanger the
growing language industry."

The dons also argued that the Constitution recognized Kiswahili as the
second official language of Uganda and therefore should be made part
of the core curriculum in primary and secondary schools. They
predicted that dropping foreign languages would deny people access to
international jobs.

The ministry proposed a minimum class size of 40 students for Arts and
20 for Sciences at A' level. The teaching load would be 24 periods per
week. The lecturers said this was unrealistic. They offered to
participate in consultations on the curriculum if invited.

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