SABOI Imboela says the policy of not teaching English from grade one to four in a country where English is the official language has made it very hard for many to learn it.
The National Democratic Congress gender national chairperson says in most rural schools, one needs an interpreter to talk to pupils, some in grade eight and nine because they could not understand English.
The government in 2014 introduced a policy that children from pre-school to grade four must be taught in local languages. The seven official languages are Tonga, Bemba, Nyanja, Kaonde, Luvale, Lozi and Lunda.
“I wonder who’s been sitting to make the new education policies and what their motive is. Do they move around Zambia to find out the benefits and impact of their policies? First and foremost, this policy of not teaching English from grade 1 to 4 in a country where English is the official language has made it very hard for many of them to learn English. In most rural schools, u [you] need an interpreter to talk to pupils as high as grade 8, 9s because they can’t hear a word in English,” she posted on her Facebook page.
She stated that the children manage to pass grade seven because it involve multiple choice and one can guess, but grade 10 was about explaining answers.
“So how do u [you] expect people that don’t know English to answer? And we all know that languages are best learnt when you are young, so they need to learn English from grade one as we all did, including the same people making these funny policies. The latest policy and saddest one is where now examination numbers are expiring just after someone writes an exam once and fail; meaning they can’t repeat grade 9 if they fail the exams but have to go all the way to grade 6…” she said.
Imboela included a picture of a grade 6 class she said included pupils that failed grade 9 and had to go back to grade 6 because the new system could not allow them to repeat grade 9 or even grade 8 as they would have no examination numbers.
“This is what is happening now in most rural schools and so many are stopping school becoz [because] of not bearing the embarrassment of repeating all the way to grade 6 from grade 9. The bold ones are putting the shame aside.”
Imboela said the rich people in Lusaka would even argue that there was an option of GCE but GCE was expensive and parents could not afford it.
“…and we want to end these high rates of teenage pregnancies and marriages and high school dropout rates with one hand but the other hand is making policies that is making it impossible for our girls and even boys to get educated. Please look critically into these policies you are making and reverse them as soon as you can. These poor girls and boys all over Zambia are relying on the good decisions you make in those offices…. They don’t need your money, just your conscience as you think of what’s best for the child in the remotest part of this country,” said Imbolela.