[lg policy] Namibia; SWAPO language policy a disaster

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 21 14:48:51 UTC 2011

SWAPO language policy a disaster 	
Written by Johanna Absalom
Friday, 18 November 2011 08:45

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
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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