University of Tasmania
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Peril or promise : the realities of the implementation of mother tongue/language policy in the rural primary classrooms of Uganda

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posted on 2023-05-27, 12:06 authored by Muzoora, M
There is a growing global trend that envisions the use of mother tongue instruction in children's early years of formal education. For decades mother tongue (MT) medium of instruction (MoI) in the early years of school has been supported by a wealth of research literature as fundamental in early literacy attainment. The Uganda Government developed a MT MoI policy in an effort to increase literacy in rural children attending formal education through familiar languages. It was envisaged that this would promote improvement in early numeracy and literacy, encourage more children to attend school, encourage parents to send children to school and give all children quality and equitable education. The policy was passed in the 1992 Government White Paper, following the recommendations of the 1989 Kajubi report on education. The policy was given more prominence in 2000 with the revision of the primary school curriculum and later in 2007 with the introduction and implementation of the thematic curriculum that re-emphasised use of non-dominant languages (NDLs) as the medium of instruction in the rural primary classrooms This study explored the perils and promises of this mother tongue language policy in rural schools of Uganda. The choice of language as the medium of instruction in schools at both policy and implementation level in Uganda continues to be controversial with issues of cultural tension, feasibility, national unity, modernity and globalisation being matters worthy of investigation. The central focus of the study was the implementing teacher. The investigation used a qualitative approach using a case study methodology to guide the study. Data were collected for four months from six schools in two rural districts in the central region of Uganda. The study revealed that the current MT policy showed positive gains in terms of mind-set and practical realities in the area of mother tongue MoI in the rural classrooms. The use of MT enabled better understanding among learners, bridged the gap between the school and community, improved teacher- learner interaction, and helped to build identity and self-worth in students. The findings also suggested, however, continued perils that were psychological, social and pedagogical in nature, such as the continued use of English in examinations, and a lack of teacher training and materials in appropriate MT languages. These findings imply that acquisition of MT languages and their use in the classroom has still not yet fully achieved the desired outcomes. The findings of the study suggest a lack of consideration of sociolinguistic and socio-economic realities when planning for program creation and implementation as well as a lack of involvement of stakeholders at the local level. The study identified a need for an approach that embeds policy and implementation planning at all levels of the system as well as a legal framework and further research to support the policy. Such considerations would ultimately contribute to the attainment of stable and lasting multilingual as well as cognitively enriching effects and attainment of literacy in rural students in Uganda.


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Copyright 2016 the Author Thesis (EdD)--University of Tasmania, 2016.

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