By Mayimuna Nabagereka
The fallacy in the thesis that students learn best in their own tounge and their own surroundings is quickly exposed by the high failure rates in Tanzania’s Std VII “exams” and the equally poor results by Form IV students in the subject called Kiswahili, much worse than in another subject called physics, how do you explain that?
I dont know what prompted Nyerere to do such a disservice to Tanzanians.Nyerere was very comfortable speaking classics (in fact, he translated 6 of them from Shakespeare and the Septuagint o Kiswahili); Slaa (before he changed calls) was quite at home in English and, though he prays in Latin or Kimang’ati, he preferred in his Homilies to refer to the Greek version of the Bible rather than the King James version. And yet nobody doubts Nyerere’s or Slaa’s intellect and their “presentation” skills.
In short, I keep falling back inexorably to the same conclusion: those who are asking us to invent new wheels and pulleys by adopting our local languages as a medium of instruction are people with some sort of failings – human failings, to be sure, but failings all the same – for which they are looking for a scapegoat. They think the scapegoat is English but they are wrong.
A smaller group (I call them pseudo-patriots) think that it is a fight against colonialism and imperialism, citing the French and the Japanese and the Germans as people who use their “own” language. This is also wrong: the Japanese boy speaks Japanese and leaves with Japanese from the day he is born.
I have met many professionals who were educated in the sixties and in the seventies that always left me impressed and deeply respectful of their expertise. If we want to improve our education standards, stop these damned experiments and use the money to pay our teachers well.For each shilling spent on this doomed experiment, let us give salary increments to our teachers.Our education needs to improve, no question about that.