Academic journal article NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication

8. Impact of the Language Policy of Namibia: An Investigation of Grade Ten Learners in English as a Second Language across the Khomas Region from 2007 to 2010

Academic journal article NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication

8. Impact of the Language Policy of Namibia: An Investigation of Grade Ten Learners in English as a Second Language across the Khomas Region from 2007 to 2010

Article excerpt

Introduction

The challenges facing Language Policy and Planning (1) in Namibia are the product of a range of historical factors over a period of more than twenty years. As the Ministry of Education and Culture Namibia ('Towards Education For All: A Development Brief for Education, Culture and Training', 1993, p.2), Nujoma (in'Towards Education For All: A Development Brief for Education, Culture and Training', 1993, p.2) and Maho (1998) all discuss, the apartheid system of Bantu education denied the black community equal educational opportunities by depriving them of key subjects such as mathematics, thus limiting their job prospects. This meant that many people experienced difficulties in gaining admission to further education.

Namibia's independence in 1990 aimed to move away from this inequality and towards an educational system which had to be available for all. Such a system, the Namibian Government believed, would aim to address the imbalances of not only education, but also the social and economic inequalities that came with the deprivation of education before independence. The universal right to education for all Namibian children can be seen in Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution, which states that "All persons shall have the right to education ... Primary education shall be compulsory and the State shall provide reasonable facilities to render effective this right for every resident within Namibia, by establishing and maintaining State schools at which primary education will be provided free of charge" (Ministry of Education

The South West African People's Organisation chose English as both the official language of Namibia (with each indigenous language, such as the Oshiwambo group of ten languages, recognised as a national language) and the compulsory medium of instruction in schools from Grade Four, as well as being the mutual, neutral and universal language for all Namibian Government meetings and documentation.

In Education, the English language forms a vital part of the curriculum. To pass Grade Ten, a pupil must score at least twenty-three points across a minimum of six subjects. This must include a pass in English. However, as English can be thought of as being a foreign language to the majority of Namibians, it can be said that Namibia is part of what Jenkins (2003) refers to as an 'expanding circle' . An expanding circle is one in which the language (in this case, English) has been introduced into a country where the language has not yet reached the level of proficiency to be considered fluently spoken by the majority of people.

Although this idea is found within the debate of New Englishes, it is relevant to this study, because in making English the official language of the country, the Government has elevated the status of English. Hence, there is a perceived importance imposed upon its citizens to acquire the language in order to assimilate into the community.

Yet English was a language which many Namibians had had little exposure to, if any. This raised issues in education as to how the language should be introduced and taught. Since independence, the focus has been towards communicative English--that is, an emphasis upon spoken English. The belief here is that learners must be able to communicate fluently in the language and possess a sound corpus of lexis before they can write fluently. It can be thought that after more than twenty years of independence and this approach to teaching, the aims of the strategy have been achieved. Yet, in continuing with this approach, rather than focusing upon written English (grammar in particular), grammar and syntax development may have been neglected.

As the 2010 Grade Ten results perhaps showed, not all students are achieving the standards expected of them by the government. Of the 16,383 students who failed grade ten nationally last year, 3,380 scored between 0-13 points (The Namibian, 2011). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.