English, Education and Colonialism

From Zambian Economist Mon Jan 21 2013, 06:00:00

By Chola Mukanga

Proponents of multilingual education have received a high profile support in form of Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba. He is calling for local languages to be made more prominent in the education curriculum :

"We have to address this imbalance. As the PF, we are determined to see to it that we eliminate the use of English as a language of instructions in our schools and replace it with our own Zambian languages...What we have is a colonial hangover. If you remember in 1884 during the Berlin Conference to partition Africa, European countries decided to divide Africa especially Sub Saharan Africa. Some African countries were turned into English speaking nations, others became French speaking while countries like Mozambique were turned into Portuguese speaking countries. This was done in order to manage us as Africans.They had to impose this English language on our forefathers but what is shocking is that Zambian intellectuals even those at University have not raised this question that the English language has been used as a tool of captivity."

Zambia National Union of Teachers has welcomed the "PF government's intention to introduce a policy that will promote local languages as the only medium of instruction in schools" (emphasis added) . Adding that they are ready to work with the PF government in ensuring that the policy is developed. It cannot be denied that Mr Kabimba has a point that there are huge benefits to learning in your indigenous language. A UNESCO advocacy report of 2010 made a similar case, with better nuance :

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