Yesterday, I attended an interesting talk by Mrs. Martha Qorro, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, University of Dar es Salaam, on “Why the Use of Kiswahili as an English Medium”
One of the reason of me attending, was a conversation that i had with my fellow peers, when the bill was passed, on the use of Kiswahili as a medium of education, replacing English in the Secondary Schools.
She raised interesting points on the the need to separate language and education, that at the moment, kids who, by 2011 statistics, 99% attended Kiswahili Medium schools, are forced to start learning subjects in English, in secondary schools, taught by Teachers who, themselves don’t know english. What this does, is first of all, introducing language as a barrier to learning, A teacher who only has 80 minutes a day to make sure his/her students learn a subject, now has to teach english as well. Second since the teachers themselves don’t know english language, even the grammatically correct english taught by english teachers, is now diluted, by all the other teachers.
Also comes to the point of Content Vs Language, that the current system as it is, robes students with the ability to get content, and Its better for the country if we have citizens with Content rather than emphasizing on the Language. In which she emphasized, that English is important, and it should be taught as a subject, and not as a medium of instructions.
I personally love the Content Vs Language, analogy. From working with hundreds of students, as Bunihub, I feel, as a country we do not lack people who can talk English, but we do lack people who are competitive, who have skills that will not only propel them into getting good jobs, but also will allow them to solve community problems and thus benefit the community at large.
I am yet to be disappointed by youth who are very skilled but can’t express themselves in English, but the case right now is a majority of graduates, graduate with minimal skills.
With this in mind we have to look at the whole idea, in terms of what route will help us in impacting the necessary skills to the young generations. Then figure out another mechanism that will make them learn a universal language of communication.
Now my problem is, whatever language that will be used at this point, the subject of Content will still be an issue. Will swahili improve the skills acquisition by students? And by not using English? aren’t we robbing our next generation the ability to even access the body of knowledge that is easily available in the English?
Those are my key Questions that I still ask myself.
I would love to hear your thoughts, Leave your Comments below
Cheers to the Organizers and Mrs Marth Qorro