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New policy irks linguists

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th March 2001 03:00 AM

Controversy has arisen from the Ministry of Education (MOE) circular on policy guidelines of curriculum and staff establishment ceiling in government and private secondary schools.

Controversy has arisen from the Ministry of Education (MOE) circular on policy guidelines of curriculum and staff establishment ceiling in government and private secondary schools.

By Josephine Maseruka Controversy has arisen from the Ministry of Education (MOE) circular on policy guidelines of curriculum and staff establishment ceiling in government and private secondary schools. The circular signed by Sam Onek, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary Francis Xavier Lubanga states that students from senior one to senior four must study one compulsory language subject chosen by the school and not the students. Subjects to be selected from include Kiswahili, German, French, Latin, Luganda, Runyakitara, Arabic and Luo. The ministry's directive is aimed at helping schools optimise use of their resources and have a maximum number of subjects to be offered by students. These subjects are selected by the school from a given group not by the candidate. Already Language advocates and Teachers' associations have criticised the Ministry's decision, which might deter the further development of the indigenous languages. The Luganda Teachers' Association (LTA) in a press statement issued after their March 4, meeting argued that categorising languages together is 'an ill conceived and baseless move which has no researched facts on its implication and implementation.' LTA said that local and foreign languages on the school curriculum hold different educational values. They stated that local languages help to preserve our cultures, promote unity through diversity and assist political, social and economic interaction as laid down in the Government White paper on Education. LTA further argued that the development of these languages will be retarded since there will be no mechanism to check on their development in schools. Members of the Luganda Language Society (LLS)argued that the policy guidelines contravene both the Uganda Constitution and the UNESCO accord, which allow the right to one's language. Prof. Livingstone Walusimbi, the President of LLS explained that some schools founded on a religious basis cannot offer local languages when there are preferences like Arabic, Latin, French and German. Under the Universal Primary Education, teachers are directed to teach P1 to P3 in the area local language. LLS argues that if local languages are not taught in secondary schools and tertiary institutions, there will be no teachers to teach them in primary schools. Others argue that teachers of some of these languages may end up jobless since their subjects will cease to be offered by schools. Masaazi-Masagazi the Chairman of LTA appealed for the policy guidelines on categorising of language to be revoked. LLS and LTA have suggested the following: l Ministry should carry out research on categorisation. The study will bring out the magnitude of such a policy. l All the stakeholders, parents, students, opinion leaders, teachers should be consulted. l If this is the best policy, let the students not the school be given freedom to select the language of their choice. l Due to the relevance of both local and foreign languages, it is paramount to let these two categories co-exist on the school curriculum and not to impose unacceptable guidelines which will eventually suffocate local languages. Ends

New policy irks linguists

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