A study of the Zambia primary English course
By: Chanda Peter Chishimba
Published: 1979
Uploaded: 10/18/2006
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: English language, Study and teaching (Primary), Zambia

During the 1960Ăs there were two major forces shaping developments in education and curriculum in Zambia. In the first place, Zambia attained its independence from Great Britain on October 24, 1964. Second, there occurred the world-wide curriculum reform which originated in the United States of America and other developed nations. The attainment of independence in Zambia was followed by demands for changes in different institutions, including education. Thus curriculum change began taking place locally largely for social, cultural, economic, and political reasons, and also because of a world-wide curriculum reform movement emanating from the more developed nations of the world. The introduction of the Zambia Primary Course (ZPC) in the primary schools in 1967 partially met these demands for change in Zambia. The ZPC was an experimental curriculum based on the New Peak Course, an English medium program in use in Kenya. The New Peak Course, sometimes referred to as the New Primary Approach, embodies modern primary teaching methods such as ˘learning through doing÷ and group-work, while using English as the medium of instruction. Details of the ZPC can be found in the background of the study in this Chapter and in Chapter IV of this report. In this study, we will review only the English component of the ZPC.
The Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to review the pupilsĂ texts and the teachersĂ handbooks of the Zambia Primary English Course in order to make recommendations for revision. In order to do this, the sub-purposes were as follows:
1. To determine the consistency between objectives, content, learning activities and teaching methods;
2. To determine the validity of objectives compared against ideal objectives for teaching English as a second language;
3. To determine the validity of content, learning activities and teaching methods compared against ideal content, learning activities and teaching methods for teaching English as a second language;
4. To determine the compatibilities of content, learning activities and teaching methods for the socio-cultural content of Zambia;
5. To determine the readability of passages for the appropriate grade levels.
Limitations of the Study
Only those aspects of the areas considered with direct implications for English as a second language were examined. Further, the implications were confined to and expressed in the form of objectives, content, learning activities, and teaching methods. The ideal objectives, content, learning activities, and teaching methods together from the Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL) and also the ideal socio-cultural factors and readability formula form the ideal for reviewing the Zambia Primary English Course texts. This study is limited to the printed instructional materials which are examined herein and it is also limited to Zambia, although it may have value to other countries too. It is limited to English as a second language as well.
Assumptions of the Study
The validity of the ideal established in this study as a reviewing tool has been assumed; no empirical testing of its workability was attempted. One of the major goals of the Zambia Primary English Course is the development of communication skills in terms of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Opportunities have to be provided in the curriculum for their development. It has been assumed that the writers of the course being investigated in this dissertation provided these opportunities through the various activities and exercises in the texts. Further, it has been assumed that the activities and exercises in a curriculum are the best means of developing language communication skills. Finally, it has also been assumed that the Zambia Primary English Course was still experimental and that its instructional materials were being used in this form in the primary schools.
Definition of Terms
The following terms which are frequently used in this dissertation need explanation:
In this study the term ˘curriculum÷ refers to a course of study which contains intended learning goals and experiences in a school subject. ˘Objectives÷ will be used to mean the aims or goals of the curriculum.
˘Skills÷ in this dissertation refer to those interrelated processes of listening, speaking, reading, and writing which are designed to increase the learnerĂs control over all aspects of communication. For instance, as processes the language skills represent the application of the content of English as the learner engages in the transmission and the reception of communications via listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
In this study, ˘content÷ is used to mean those facts, terms, conventions, etc., which make up the subject matter of English.
˘Review÷ is used in this dissertation to mean a critical study of the new curriculum or course in order to discover its merits and defects and then suggest what aspects of it should be improved upon.
In this report, the term ˘curriculum materials÷ encompasses pupil textbooks, workbooks, teachersĂ guides, and syllabuses which are used in schools for purposes of teaching and learning.
˘Ideal÷ is used in this study to refer to an example regarded as conforming to a standard, and taken as a model for imitation.
˘Primary schools,÷ in Zambia, are responsible for the first seven years of childrenĂs education at school. The entry age for children into these schools is seven years. The schools are the equivalent of the American elementary schools.
Significance of the Study
Since the inception of the ZPC English materials in 1967 in the primary schools, they have been labelled ˘Experimental Version.÷ Inasmuch as the ZPC is an ˘experimental÷ curriculum, there is need for reviewing it. Such a review might be helpful in deciding what aspects of the curriculum need to be revised. One approach to this problem is the review of the pupil texts and their teacher handbooks.
This study is undertaken because it could contribute to the revision of the English component of the ZPC written instructional materials. The method developed in this study for reviewing the language curriculum materials could contribute to the improvement of other English-as-a-second-language courses in Zambia or elsewhere. That is, it could be used with or without modifications for this purpose. It could also be used for developing an ˘ideal÷ English-as-a-second-language curriculum in Zambia.
In 1968 Mwanakatwe, ZambiaĂs first Minister of Education, pointed out that after the attainment of independence in 1964 the quality of English spoken and written by pupils has been of concern to most Zambian educationists. In this connection, he states:
For many years the problem of language teaching has been given much thought by teachers and administrators, concerned to improve methods of instruction whether in the vernacular, or in English, or both, as a means of raising the overall standards of education. Indeed, for some time the standard of spoken and written English in . . . schools has been a matter of grave concern to the educational authorities [and parents] . . . .
On the basis of the high failure rates in the Grade 7 Final Examinations of 1971 and 1972 a nationwide survey was conducted by the Psychological Service of the Ministry of Education in 1973 to determine the effectiveness of the ZPC with respect to the reading skills of the pupils. Grade 3 pupils were chosen as a sample of the primary school children. The rationale being, firstly, that pupils at this level would already have had two years of formal schooling and still would have some more years at the primary level to benefit from any remedial instruction that might result from the survey. Secondly, at this grade level the ZPC shifts its emphasis from the teaching of pupils in small groups of four or five to the teaching of the class as a whole, and it was felt perhaps the survey would throw some light on the effects of such a shift. The results of this survey were shocking. Most of the Grade 3 pupils were found to be almost illiterate in English. The staff of the Psychological Service of the Ministry of Education reports that:
From the survey it is obvious that the reading skills of Grade 3 children are very poorly developed. This is evident from the fact that the majority of the children in Grade 3 are not able to read all the words even at the level of Grade 1. The seriousness of the problem becomes evident when we consider that only 149 out of 3,298 could manage all the 40 words of the test. If the general expectation is that the New Zambia Primary Course is fulfilling its purpose by most of the students, the results indicate just the opposite. It is failing by most; only a minority, 4.5% of the total population at the Grade 3 level to be exact, is living up to the ideal that every child is learning all that the course intended.
As can be seen from the report of the Psychological Service, presumably the ZPC English materials are not fulfilling the purpose of the course. Further, it should be pointed out that the students starting at the age of seven should be using the language skills acquired from this English course in order to learn almost all other school subjects, such as environmental science, mathematics, social studies, etc., taught in the medium of English, and also in order to operate easily in the life of the school where English is used. For these reasons, it is significant that the ZPC English texts be reviewed.
Today, textbooks take a dominant place in schools from the first grade to the college. But the significant role the textbooks play in education is not universally recognized. For example, Dottrens states that:
Of all the means available to teachers, the textbook is not only the most widespread but also the most tyrannical, however attractively produced and whatever the value of its contents and the richness of its illustrations. It might even be asserted that the better the textbook, the more it depersonalizes and mechanizes the teacherĂs instruction.
Although he is critical of school textbooks, he realizes that they are essential for normal school work in settings where the teachersĂ level of training and competence is still low. He recommends that the textbookĂs ˘design and preparation need to be studied with the utmost care to ensure that it is of high pedagogical value and readily usable by teachers and pupils alike.÷
The texts supply a systematic and graded record of information and potential learning activities. They are the most important instructional materials used by teachers and pupils in schools. Texts make the teachersĂ and pupilsĂ work easier, as they sequence, illustrate, and provide drill exercises on new teaching points. In this connection, Billows says, ˘Few teachers are so fully aware of what has to be taught, and of what gives the most trouble in the learning that they can afford to do without such help [from the textbooks].÷ But no one textbook is capable of satisfying all the language needs of the various pupils and teachers likely to use it. In this regard, Billows says that the textbook writer does not know the learners as well as their teacher does, and cannot, therefore, predict what is likely and what is unlikely to work for them.
In any teaching situation, the textbook plays a major role in helping students learn the material presented in the classroom. This is especially so in the second-language classroom, because for most pupils the textbook is the only non-teacher source of information available. Thus it is important that the textbook present the material in a logical and orderly fashion, and in a manner consistent with what is known about the learning process.
The findings of this study could suggest areas in the ZPC English curriculum where revision is needed. In this way, these findings would be making a significant contribution to curriculum improvement in English as a second language. Also, the ideal and the procedure for reviewing the printed language materials are a contribution to English education in Zambia and elsewhere.
Background of the Study
A General Description of Zambia
Zambia is a landlocked country situated in Southern Africa. It shares borders with Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Botswana and Namibia to the south, Zaire and Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Mozambique to the east, and Angola to the west. It has an area of approximately 766,610 square kilometers (296,000 square miles) and a population of about five million. Zambia lies between 10 and 18 degrees south of the equator. Average elevations in Zambia range between 914 meters (3,000 feet) and 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level, the greater part of the plateau being between 914 meters (3,000 feet) and 1,219 meters (4,000 feet). In many places the level of the plateau is broken by hills, sometimes occurring as chains which develop into areas of more rugged country. West of the Luangwa trough are the Muchinga Mountains which form part of the great escarpment. These mountains have individual peaks rising to about 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). The Luangwa trough is believed to be an ancient depression and is covered with sedimentary formations. In the northeast of the country is a mountainous area associated with Lake Malawi Rift Zone and isolated from the rest of the country by the low-lying Luangwa Valley.
Being on a fairly high plateau, Zambia has a very temperate climate with little humidity. Although within tropical latitudes, the general height of the plateau gives Zambia a modified Sudan-type of climate. There are three distinct seasons--cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to November, and warm and wet from December to April. Zambia is drained to the Zambezi River by the Kafue and the Luangwa rivers. In the north, it is drained by the Chambeshi and Luapula rivers to the Zaire River. Lakes Bangweulu and Mweru are on the Chambeshi and Luapula rivers respectively. The northern end of Lake Tanganyika is in the Northern Province of Zambia.
Industries in Zambia include timber sawmills in the Copperbelt Province and at Mulobezi near the town of Livingstone. Copper mining is done in the Copperbelt Province. Maize farming thrives along the line-of-rail from Livingstone to the copper belt and in the Eastern Province, cotton in the Upper Luangwa Valley and other areas, tobacco in the Chipata area, and coffee in the north-east. Groundnuts (peanuts) are grown mostly in the Eastern Province. In the Southern Province a scheme for sugar cane cultivation is in existence at Nakambala Sugar Estate. Also in Southern Province and other parts of the country cattle are raised for both beef and dairy purposes.
The town of Kabwe, located in Central Province, has mines for lead, zinc, and vanadium minerals. Copper is mined and refined on the Copperbelt. Copper mines include Roan Antelope (Luanshya), Mufulira, Nkana, Nchanga, Bancroft (Chililabombwe), Chibuluma, Chambeshi, and Kansanshi (in Mumbwa district, Central Province). Ndola city processes copper. It has light industry such as sugar refining and motor assembly, engineering, timber, brick, cement, food, and drink. It has also a factory for soap, edible oils, and margarine. Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, has an international airport, the University and other interesting places of education, truck and lorry assembly, a factory for shoes, and a cotton ginnery. The city of Kitwe, located on the Copperbelt, has factories for clothing and plastic goods. Livingstone town, located in the Southern Province, is the chief center of the tourist industry. The Victoria Falls (Mosi-O-Tunya) and the Livingstone Museum are tourist attractions in the town of Livingstone. The latter has also a Fiat Motor Assembly plant and a TV and radio factory.
Zambia is not self-supporting in foodstuffs--wheat, rice, meat, and tinned goods in particular being imported. Cotton goods, textiles, and apparel form another important class of imports. Machinery, iron and steel goods--including pipes and galvanized iron, motor vehicles, and tractors--petrol (gasoline) and oils, together form the bulk of the imports. Also to be noted in this area are pottery, glassware, chemicals, paper, leather, and rubber goods. Copper, however, in various forms provides about 90 percent of the export values; lead, cobalt, and zinc make up most of the rest of the mineral exports. Tobacco, maize (corn) and groundnuts are the most significant agricultural exports. Imports and exports travel mainly by rail and those from or destined for overseas markets are routed through Tanzania via Dar-es-Salaam, Kenya via Mombasa, Mozambique via Beira, and Angola via Lobito.
Major communication systems include the radio and telecommunication system, water, road, railway, and air. The Zambia Airways has scheduled services to all major towns and cities, the frequencies of which vary with demand and volume of business. The Zambia Railways and Tan-Zam Railways (TAZARA) operate rail services for passengers and goods of all kinds. The Post and Telecommunication Services provide a full range of mail and telephone services.
Zambia has been an independent Republic within the British Commonwealth since October 24, 1964, prior to which it was known as the British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. At the turn of the twentieth century the two halves of the country (North-east and North-west Rhodesia) that had been administered by Cecil RhodesĂ British South Africa Company were joined under the British Crown and the Colonial regime continued until the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Central African Federation) in 1953. The Central African Federation lasted only for a decade--from 1953 to 1963 when it was dissolved. The break-up of the Federation led to the establishment of Zambia as an independent state. The latter has a one-party participatory democracy. The party which has been in power since the country attained independent status in 1964 is the United National Independence Party (UNIP). The legislative body of the country is the National Assembly, comprising both elected and nominated members. The National Assembly functions on the same lines as the British parliament. All parliamentary business is conducted in English. Elections are held every five years.
The Education System
The Ministry of Education is the central education authority in Zambia responsible for all schools providing formal education and for all technical, further and higher education. In Zambia, the school year coincides with the calendar year. The regulations stipulate that pupils shall receive instruction in school for a minimum period of one hundred and eighty days in each year. The school calendar for any particular year is issued by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education.
In terms of the Education Act of 1966, the Minister of Education controls the administration of the entire formal education system (see Figure 1). Two Ministers of State assist him in his administrative functions, one for general education and the other for technical education. The Permanent Secretary is the official head of the administration at the Ministry headquarters in Lusaka. The Under Secretary and the Chief Inspector of Schools are responsible to the Permanent Secretary on administrative matters. Below the Under
Fig. 1. Outline Structure of the Zambian Educational System
Secretary there are five Assistant Secretaries responsible to him. The Assistant Secretary (Professional), for instance, is responsible for professional subjects such as examinations, professional committees, teachersĂ associations, legislations, publications, and all educational programs. The Assistant Secretary (Administration) is responsible for all administrative functions in the Ministry of Education. The Assistant Secretary (Finance) is in charge of finance, salaries, and bursaries; while the Assistant Secretary (Staffing) is responsible for recruitment of staff, discipline and promotions. And the Assistant Secretary (Planning) is charged with the responsibility of construction and maintenance of educational buildings and the ordering and distribution of supplies in accordance with the national development plans.
The Chief Inspector of Schools as the head of the Inspectorate is charged with the duty of maintaining teaching standards in schools which are under the control of the Ministry of Education. He is the chief advisor to the Permanent Secretary on professional matters regarding the supervision of teachers and standards of teaching in schools. He works in close consultation with the senior educational administrators and inspectors of schools. The Chief Inspector of Schools is responsible for the direction and coordination of the Inspectorate Division and the general supervision of the Psychological Service, the Examination Section and the Curriculum Development Centre (C.D.C.). He is assisted by the Deputy Chief Inspector of Schools. The latter supervises Senior Inspectors of Schools. Each Senior Inspector of Schools heads a sub-division of the Inspectorate, notably Primary Education, Secondary Education, and Teacher Training, and is responsible to the Chief Inspector of Schools via the Deputy Chief Inspector of Schools. The Senior Inspector (Primary) at the Ministry headquarters exercises control over inspectors in the field by correspondence, meetings, and visits. At Ministry headquarters, he has under him a small number of inspectors who assist him in his daily professional and administrative duties. At the regional level is the Regional Senior Primary Inspector of Schools who exercises control over Primary School Inspectors in the field. The Primary School Inspectors are based in the districts and are responsible for the day to day inspection of schools. Their inspection is not only confined to teaching in the classroom but they have to write a general inspection report of schools. They work hand in hand with the subject inspectors and report to the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) through the District Education Officers.
The Senior Inspectors of Secondary Schools have under them subject inspectors who are in charge of all aspects of their respective subjects. The subject inspector is the MinistryĂs chief representative on his subject association; he advises the Chief Examination Officer on examination matters. He is responsible for arranging panels for writing the syllabuses and setting the Form III (Grade 10) examinations. He advises the officer in charge of Staff Postings on posting details, and also he advises the Chief Inspector of Schools on the renewal of contracts by teachers in his subject area and recommends the appointments of heads of departments in secondary schools. At the regional level, there are Regional Inspectors of Secondary Schools based at regional headquarters. These are responsible to the Senior Inspectors through the CEOs. The Senior Inspector of Secondary Schools exercises his authority by leading teams on inspection tours of schools and by writing general reports on the secondary schools. His duties include the processing of all subject inspectorsĂ reports and drawing the attention of senior educational administrators to problems observed during the course of the inspection tours. Regional Inspectors are responsible for the daily inspection of their schools in their regions. They also advise the CEOs on administrative matters and follow up matters raised by the subject inspectors.
For the purpose of educational administration, Zambia is divided into nine regions which coincide with eight provinces into which the territory is divided, except that Central Province is divided into two education regions. In each region, the senior official of the Ministry of Education is the Chief Education Officer (CEO) who is responsible to the Permanent Secretary in discharging his administrative and professional duties. He is responsible for the supervision of all educational activities in his region; he controls the development of educational services, the disbursement of funds and the discipline of staff in accordance with the policy laid down by the Ministry. In carrying out his administrative and professional functions, the CEO is assisted by a professional team of Education Officers (EOs), District Education Officers (DEOs), Inspectors of Schools, and executive and technical officers. The CEO is chairman of the Regional Teaching Service Committee which submits recommendations to the Permanent Secretary regarding serious breaches of discipline by teachers, and he is also a member of the Regional Council of Education on which he sits as educational advisor and executive officer. There are also a number of advisory councils and committees which participate in the formulation of policy on professional matters and development programs. The Local Councils of Education, at the district or municipal level, enable representatives of government and mission schools and the teachersĂ union to collaborate in assessing educational needs and efficiency of schools in their areas.
As can be seen in Figure 1 on the top left of the pyramid of educational authorities, there is the National Council of Education which is under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education. The Minister of Education may on occasion refer any subject or issue on education to the National Council of Education for consideration and deliberation, and the CouncilĂs recommendation is taken to reflect national opinion. Professional advisory committees include the Primary Education Committee, the Secondary Education Committee and the Teacher Training Committee on which representatives of voluntary agencies and teachersĂ organizations work together with Ministry officials. Also, on the top right of the pyramid is the Curriculum Council which comprises a number of subject curriculum committees whose members are selected by the Minister of Education from as wide an educational area as possible. The deliberations of these committees are forwarded to the Curriculum Council. The major function of the Council is to make recommendations to the Minister of Education on the educational and curriculum issues brought before it.
The different levels in the school system are shown below as follows:
The primary school system provides a seven-year course which runs from Grades 1 through 7. In primary schools, the age of a pupilĂs entry to Grade 1 is seven years. At all primary schools instruction is provided in the following subjects: mathematics, creative activities, English, environmental science, religious education, homecraft, physical education, Zambian languages, social studies, music, and handwriting. At the end of the seven-year primary education, the pupils sit for the National Grade 7 Final Examinations and the Secondary Selection Examinations. Those pupils who succeed in the first examination are issued with the Primary School Leaving Certificate; whereas those who pass both examinations, obtaining relatively high marks in the Secondary Selection Examination, are admitted into secondary schools for Form I (Grade 8). The rest of the pupils drop out of primary education and either attend evening classes (night schools which are meant for adults) or apply for places in trade schools and other training schools to acquire job skills in agriculture, carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, homecraft, and other crafts.
The secondary school course is of five yearsĂ duration with two segments. The first segment lasts three years and it is called junior secondary; while the second segment, which is of two yearsĂ duration, is known as senior secondary. At the end of the junior secondary period, the students sit for the Junior Secondary School Leaving Examinations. The progression of the students from Form III (Grade 10) to Form IV (Grade 11) is based upon performance in the Junior Secondary School Leaving Examinations. All successful candidates in these examinations are awarded the Junior Secondary School Leaving Certificates. Those students who do not proceed to senior secondary join colleges and training schools to learn a trade and a professional job. At the end of the senior secondary course, students in secondary schools sit for the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate Examinations set by the Cambridge Examination Syndicate of Britain. At the time of writing, plans are underway for such examinations to be prepared and marked locally by the Zambia Examinations Council which will also be responsible for the award of certificates to successful candidates. In both the junior and senior secondary courses, the following school subjects are offered: English, Zambian languages, French, history, geography, general science, agricultural science, biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, art and crafts, metalwork, woodwork, civics, religious education, home economics, physical education, and commerce. In secondary technical schools, students are offered additional subjects such as technical drawing and additional mathematics in preparation for ultimate training in engineering or applied science at a technical college or at the University of Zambia. Upon completing senior secondary education, students apply for places in training colleges, such as TeachersĂ Colleges, Natural Resources Development College, Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce, etc., and the University of Zambia.
The Educational Broadcasting Unit (E.B.U.) provides supplementary instruction in key subjects for the benefit of pupils in primary and secondary schools as well as student teachers in Teacher Training Colleges. Educational Television programs also supplement school subjects, although these are restricted to a few urban areas where electricity facilities are available. The Ministry of Education established a Psychological Service (Psy.S.) in September 1965. The major function of the Service is to develop tests for the Secondary Selection Examination alluded to earlier. It also constructs achievement and diagnostic tests for all levels of the school system, particularly primary schools, secondary schools, teacher training colleges, and special education institutions.
There has been rapid expansion of the primary and secondary school system in Zambia since the attainment of independence as enrollment figures show below. The aim has been to achieve universal education, particularly at the primary level.
Language Situation in Zambia
Unlike in Tanzania, there is no ˘lingua franca÷ in Zambia. By ˘lingua franca÷ is meant a language that is commonly and widely used by all the people in a particular country. Instead, there are over seventy indigenous languages and dialects in Zambia. In fact, several of the native languages and dialects are similar as almost all of them belong to the family of Bantu languages. Because of this close affinity of native languages, the British colonial government selected four of them as official languages, for administrative, commercial, and educational purposes. Recently, the Zambian government has added three indigenous languages (i.e., Kaonde, Lunda and Luvale) to Nyanja, Tonga, Bemba, and Lozi. These seven native languages serve as official languages in addition to English, although the latter has been accorded high recognition by the government. The eight official languages are used in education, broadcasting, and in government films and publications. Only the seven local Zambian languages are employed in the Adult Literacy Program. English is exclusively reserved for parliamentary transactions and television. It is also the language of Government, commerce and industry.
If there is no ˘lingua franca÷ in Zambia, which languages are widely spoken? According to the data collected by Graham Mytton during the ˘National Mass Media Audience Survey÷ from 1970 to 1973, Zambian languages are more widely spoken in the country than English. The latter language falls in the third place to Bemba and Nyanja in this respect according to MyttonĂs research report. Of the official Zarabian languages, Nyanja was found to be spoken as a second language by a slightly larger number of people than claimed to speak Bemba as a second language, although on the whole, as shown in Table 2 below, a larger percentage throughout the country claimed to speak Bemba than was the case for Nyanja. As a widely spoken language Nyanja was followed by Tonga and Lozi in that order. In terms of national communication, Lunda, Luvale and Kaonde do not seem to be as significant as the other five official languages.
The statistical evidence indicates that there are in Zambia many more respondents who claim merely to speak the official languages than there are those who claim to speak them as mother tongues. Although in the urban areas English is widely spoken, Nyanja and Bemba have an even greater edge over English in terms of numbers claiming to speak them in the rural areas. From this data, one may conclude that in terms of wider communication within the Republic of Zambia, Zambian languages such as Nyanja and Bemba are currently the languages people claim to use on a wider scale than English. Kashoki comments in this connection:
. . . because English has been proclaimed as the official language to be used for the more important functions of the
state, it is generally assumed that it is at the same time the language the citizens are employing in their interpersonal relations: in the home, at play, at family gatherings, away from school, away from work, etc. Hence one would hazard the guess . . . that, rather than English, it is the Zambian languages which are playing a more significant role in these contexts . . . .
Graham MyttonĂs study indicated that Zambians spoke an average of 2.8 languages in the urban areas and 1.9 in the rural areas. A considerable number of people were found to be proficient in three or more languages. All findings showed widespread multilingualism rather than monolingualism in Zambia.
The Introduction of English Medium and Zambia Primary English Course
Zambia is a multilingual and a multicultural country. By ˘multilingual÷ here is meant a society whose members have different mother tongues, unlike the way Graham Mytton uses the term in his study referring to those people who speak more than one language. The word ˘multicultural÷ is used to mean that the Zambian society comprises people who possess slightly different culture. In the poet-independence period, one of the problems of educational policy which Zambia faced was the selection of an appropriate language for instructing pupils in primary schools. Because of the multiplicity of native languages and basing on the recommendations of the UNESCO Planning Mission and the Hardman Report, it was deemed fit to choose a language that did not belong to any one of the local linguistic groups in Zambia, and which every child would learn on an equal footing with everybody else. The UNESCO Planning Mission, while acknowledging the difficulties involved with regard to the language issue, recommended that English should be the universal medium of instruction from the beginning of primary schooling. Subsequently, the Government applied to the British Council for a language specialist to investigate the problems of teaching English in the primary schools. The language specialist, J. A. Hardman, who came to Zambia under the British CouncilĂs Aid to Commonwealth English Scheme, also proposed, after an investigation into the, problem, that English be adopted as the medium of instruction in Zambian schools.
Before adopting English as a medium of instruction in Zambian primary schools, all work in the Lower Primary School was conducted through the medium of one or other of the official teaching native languages. In Grade 1, in the seven-year primary school course, the teaching of English began in the third term and was given a time-table allocation of three 15-minute periods a week. A local adaptation of LongmansĂ Day by Day English Course was used throughout the Lower Primary School, but in the upper primary grades, the Oxford English Readers for Africa were in use. The time allocation of three periods of 15 minutes a week was gradually increased as the child progressed through the school until, by grade 5, all subjects were taught through the medium of English, the changeover to English as a medium of instruction being accomplished subject by subject.
In 1965, the Minister of Education, J. M. Mwanakatwe, brought the issue of English as a medium of instruction before the Cabinet. Citing the report of the UNESCO Planning Mission and using the recommendations of the Hardman Report, he stated:
I recommend to cabinet that English be adopted in all . . . schools from Grade 1 . . . . I would emphasize that the decision is one to make learning easier . . . . there is no fear that the traditions, customs and culture of our people, which are learnt through the medium of language will be lost. . . . The reason why I am recommending the introduction of English at such an early stage in our school system is to give our children the instruction with which to grapple with the tremendous scientific and social developments of this age, and also to give our nation the type of manpower we require for our development.
So in June 1965 the Zambian government decided to adopt English as a medium of instruction in all primary schools in Zambia. In 1966, the Zambian National Assembly wrote the provision for the use of English as a medium of instruction into the 1966 Education Act. On the basis of this decision, the Ministry of Education instituted the English Medium centre at the end of 1965 in Lusaka. In 1970 the Centre became known as the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC). Its function was to develop new language curriculum materials for the primary schools. The original intention was to bring out a modification of the New Peak Course, an English medium course in use in Kenya. But when further investigation revealed its unsuitability for use in Zambia, it was decided that a course should be written specifically for Zambian primary schools. When the first English course materials were ready in 1967, the Ministry of Education withdrew the pre-independence textbooks, called the Oxford English Readers for Africa, and other curriculum materials form the primary schools. In their place, new educational materials, called the Zambia Primary Course (ZPC), were gradually introduced into the schools grade by grade. The rationale for the change in the school curricula was that the Zambian society needed an educational system incorporating Zambian aspirations. These could best be achieved by the curricula that were oriented toward the Zambian situation.
As the Ministry of education became increasingly aware of the needs of the newly-independent nation, it changed the aims of the educational system and also the strategies of achieving them. The Curriculum Development Centre had originally been designed to prepare materials for the new primary school curriculum. This material fell into two main curricular groups: first, the English component of the Zambia Primary course; and, second, the other school subjects, such as mathematics, social studies, environmental science, religious education, creative activities, music, homecraft, and physical education which are presented in the medium of English, excluding of course the indigenous languages (which are taught as school subjects depending on the locality of a school, where a particular local language is spoken).
In 1967, the new Zambia Primary English Course produced at the CDC was introduced into 246 Grade 1 classes in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. This tremendous expansion of relatively untested materials was a result mainly of, as stated earlier, the governmentĂs declared policy for English to be used as a medium of instruction in all primary schools and its desire for a rapid implementation of the new course as soon as possible. In 1968, there was further expansion, with 539 Grade 1 classes starting in English Medium. The term ˘English Medium÷ is loosely used to refer to an education system in which English is used as the medium of instruction for almost all the subjects from the moment a child enters school in Grade 1. In Zambia, environmental science, English, social studies, reading, mathematics, creative activities, physical education, and handwriting are all taught in English from Grade 1.
The 246 grade 1 classes of 1967 proceeded to Grade 2 and used further Zambia Primary English Course materials produced at the CDC. This process continued to subsequent grades. Moreover, because of the type of methodology incorporated into the Zambia Primary English Course, the CDC was much involved in the writing of curriculum materials as in the design and production of visual aids. By the end of 1973, the Zambia Primary English Course, as originally conceived, was nearing completion, and consideration of the full part that should be played by the CDC in the reform of the secondary school curriculum became possible in order to create a meaningful link between primary and secondary school programs.
The Rationale for the Adoption of the Zambia Primary English Course
Mwanakatwe pointed out in 1968 that learning in a multiplicity of languages presents the Zambian child with daunting difficulties which often retard progress. The plight of the child who is compelled to transfer from one school to another, because his parents have moved to another location in search of work or on transfer, where a different indigenous language is used for instruction can be quite serious. Further, he states that teaching in a Zambian native language in urban areas has sometimes retarded the process of education. For instance, it had been assumed that Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, was in a mainly Nyanja-speaking district, but when a careful investigation was conducted by the English Medium Centre in 1966, in 42 primary school classes in Lusaka, it was discovered that only 49 percent of the pupils were Nyanja-speaking, 20 percent Bemba, 11 percent Tonga, 5 percent Lozi, and 15 percent other Zambian local languages. Of the 24 teachers who taught these classes, only two were Nyanja-speaking, six spoke Bemba, and the rest Tonga, Lozi, or one of several other Zambian languages. The results were that in some classes Tonga-, Lunda-, Bemba-, Lozi-speaking teachers were trying to teach reading in Nyanja to Lozi-, Bemba-, Luvale-, Kaonde-, Nyanja-speaking children. Although the children managed learning to read in an indigenous Zambian language under these circumstances, there was little for them to read in subsequent grades.
In Zambia, several studies have stressed the magnitude of the problem of teaching in a Zambian language to mixed-mother-tongue classes. In 1974, a survey of Zambian languages and teaching was conducted in Zambian primary schools by Ohanessian. She observed 254 classes of pupils in 106 schools in all regions of the country. The results indicated that in only 32 percent of the 254 classes did 80 percent of the pupils speak the same language as their mother tongue. Ninety percent of these monoglot classes were in the rural areas. However, of these rural pupils, only 49.5 percent were learning in their mother tongue, partly due to the official policy in Zambia of designating only seven Zambian languages as approved teaching languages for specific areas of the country. In a study done by Kashoki at the Institute for African Studies of the University of Zambia, the listening comprehension of groups of Bantu-language speakers was conducted. His findings reveal very little between-language understanding among speakers of Lozi, Bemba, Tonga and Nyanja. Serpell studied 250 children from Lusaka primary schools and found that children from Bemba-speaking families had by Grade 6 acquired Nyanja competence only equivalent to that of Nyanja-speaking children in Grade 3. Lozi-speaking children were a bit better at Nyanja than the Bemba in Grade 6 but much worse than them in Grade 3. Serpell found out that Tonga-speaking children were below Bemba-speaking children with respect to Nyanja-speaking proficiency. For these reasons, the Zambian children needed as soon as possible to learn an international language, English, which has lots of literature and which would ease problems of communication in schools.
English is the language used in almost all forms of post-primary education in Zambia, and, as already alluded to, it is the official language of the country. The greater exposure to English of children in primary schools could result in a greater ability on the part of them to understand, speak, read, and write English when they leave school. This will enable them to benefit much more fully from any post-primary programs that are conducted in English, whether they be in academic work or in commercial and industrial and other training programs. To this end, Mwanakatwe says that the introduction of English from the beginning of schooling would have the following advantages:
(a) An improvement in the quality of English spoken and written by pupils in primary schools.
(b) The school children would be freed from the emotional disturbance which often occurs under the traditional method when English replaces the vernacular as a medium of instruction after the fourth year of primary schooling.
(c) The school children would be helped to develop in English a more flexible command of sentence structures and vocabulary which is quite adequate for their needs in and out of school.
(d) Learning English at the upper primary level and in the secondary schools would be facilitated.
(e) An improvement in the general educational development of pupils would be expected, because they would be introduced to a much wider range of reading materials at an earlier age than is possible under the traditional method.
The new English language policy in Zambian primary schools aims at preparing not just a fortunate few for their entry into secondary schools, but equipping the majority with a working knowledge of English that can be of use as an element in terminal education. For most pupils primary education marks the end of formal schooling. Furthermore, the policy aims at stimulating and enlivening the whole atmosphere of teaching in the primary schools by using the modern methods connected with English language teaching. With all schools being involved in the Zambia Primary English Course and using the wealth of teaching materials which go with the course, there is equality of opportunity for all pupils in schools in the country as a whole.
Sankalimba queries the rationale for introducing English teaching from Grade 1 in the Zambian primary schools. Although he presents a balanced viewpoint in terms of advantages and disadvantages of English teaching he is critical of the new language policy. He states what other Zambian educators feel about this issue: ˘It is really a burden to children and a puzzle to learn in a language they do not understand. It retards overall education advancement. Teaching a language means making them think in that language.Ó÷ Making reference to the Ministry of Education Annual Report of 1967 which advocates the view that ˘children will think in English,÷ he asks: ˘How can one expect children to think in English when they still have difficulties in their own language?÷ Concerning the ZPC English texts, he further queries: ˘Do our English books have much relation to the childrenĂs environment? Are these books relevant to their own background? Are they sufficient to teach a language fully? But he regrets that there are few books in local languages and that even though ˘we have not established sound ways of teaching our own languages, why then jump to a foreign language? This is a very clear way of destroying our own culture.÷ SankalimbaĂs criticism of the new language teaching policy for the Zambian primary schools generally presents the opinion of most teachers in the country.
As pointed out earlier on in this dissertation, Zambia has adopted English as its official language. This decision is very often misconstrued by some Zambian teachers and educationists. There is one thing which we who are concerned with language teaching should take note of it before we proceed any further. Adopting English as an official language, and, consequently, as a language of instruction, does not imply that the indigenous Zambian languages are unimportant and can, therefore, be neglected. It is, in fact, extremely important that native Zambian languages should be well taught in our primary schools, and other educational institutions. The writer agrees with McGregor when he asserts that not only will such good teaching help to consolidate and develop our Zambian culture, but recent educational research has revealed that the good teaching of a language in a school can assist the teaching of another language in the same school so that, for instance, Nyanja, Lozi, Luvale, Tonga, Lunda, Bemba, or Kaonde, if well taught, will strengthen the teaching of English in a schoool. English could be used as a vehicle for teaching our own culture, of course drawing upon the rich pool of the Zambian languages. To this end, Mwanakatwe comments:
Fears have been expressed that the adoption of the English medium scheme might lead to the creation of an un-African class of people, a new breed of African boys and girls who might become more English than the English. If such a situation can only arise as a result of the introduction of the English medium scheme, then the fears are largely unfounded. In the final analysis it is the attitude of parents of school going children which has a real and decisive influence on what sort of life and outlook the African school child will adopt. The preservation of Indian culture in East and Central Africa, despite exposure to Western influence, can be attributed to the conservative role of Indian parents. On the other hand, if the attitude of African parents in Zambia is to turn their children into little Englishmen, no device such as compulsory teaching of vernacular in... primary schools can reverse the trend. Even so, to ensure that a fair balance is provided for the child to learn the things of his home background and his past, teaching vernaculars in primary schools must continue to be compulsory.
Since criticism has been levelled at the use of a teaching medium which some of the children do not understand, some people might argue that it seems irrational to teach in a language which none of the children understand, especially in lower grades. The explanation is that a teacher using an indigenous Zambian language generally teaches as though every child in the class understands everything he is saying; there is almost no consideration of the fact that a great many children in the class know of little or no language he is using. The Zambia Primary English Course, however, is taught on the assumption that no child can speak a word of the language to begin with, and that all the words and all the sentence patterns must be taught in accordance with a sequence which is carefully planned and applied in a controlled manner. That is, the native language teaching is done by first-language methods, whereas English teaching in Zambia is conducted by second-language methods.
Therefore, if the method is the crucial factor, why do we not teach children indigenous languages by employing second-language methods? The first explanation is that for some children in Zambia any native language would be a first language, and so such methods would be wasted on them, but the second reason is that an indigenous Zambian language would not be as useful as English. The latter language is used in secondary education, college and university education; it is also a requirement when one is seeking employment in government and the private sector. Besides, as Hardman states, ˘there is available a considerable literature on the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching English as a second language, as well as a large number of people experienced in the application of this particular skill.÷
In order to solve the problem of language teaching relative to English, the major questions which the Zambian educators should be asking themselves are as follows: (1) When should English be introduced as a medium of instruction in the primary school system? (2) Should English be introduced as a subject in the primary schools? If so, at which grade level? (3) When should Zambian languages be introduced in the primary schools? (4) Do non-mother-tongue Zambian languages adversely affect academic performance? If so, to what degree compared to English? Of course answers to these questions would apply to the lower primary grades where the issue seems to be prominent with regard to giving the Zambian children a sound academic background. Research evidence should as far as possible guide the decision makers, teachers and the curriculum developers in this matter.
The Training and Preparation of Teachers on Zambia Primary Course Materials
The Ministry of Education has control over what kinds of personnel should be employed in the Zambian schools. To ensure this, it runs the colleges of education, and it has also established a relationship with the University of Zambia. Colleges of education and the university train the teachers. Primary school teachers are trained in primary teacher training colleges. At the same time of writing, there are 10 such colleges in Zambia with an approximate capacity of 3,300 students (see Table 3). These colleges used to admit Junior High School graduates and primary school leavers in the past, although they are at present admitting students with some Senior High School education. A few of these colleges, including the National Inservice Training College at Chalimbana, re-train teachers for the ZPC. Inservice courses last for periods of three months.
The primary teacher training colleges offer a six-term course aimed at preparing student teachers to teach any of the seven primary grades. This is a change that was effected as a result of the study conducted by the Psychological Service of the Ministry of Education in 1973. That research found out that the teachers training colleges were receiving more better qualified applicants, as seen in Table 4. It, therefore, recommended that the division of the primary teachersĂ course into two segments should be scrapped. Previously, primary school teachers were trained as either lower primary teachers or upper primary teachers. This type of training did not ease the staffing situation in the schools because of inconsistency in the postings of teachers qualified to teach at either level. S. Pethe reports that 90 percent of the schools that responded did not have trained teachers available according to their vacancies. That is, trained for
either lower primary or upper primary grades to meet the schoolsĂ staffing needs.
The course of the primary teachers training colleges is traditional and stereotyped in both outlook and organization. It is divided into ˘background÷ comprising the content of the approved primary school syllabus and the ZPC pupilsĂ textbooks and teachersĂ handbooks; ˘methods÷ consist of those presented in the handbooks; and ˘practice teaching.÷ The timetable further subdivides the course into a number of subject areas which include ˘Education÷ comprising psychology, sociology and administration, and a full range of prescribed primary school subjects. Each subject is compartmentalized and developed as a separate entity. The syllabus for each subject was designed independently of others, so that there is a considerable amount of overlap and repetition. Furthermore, although colleges follow a ˘common syllabus÷ prepared in 1972, there is no coordination between colleges and even departments within each college to ensure integration between subject areas.
Practice teaching consists of two six-weeks blocks of actual teaching experience in primary schools. These periods are spread over the two-year course. The number of lessons taught by students is determined by the availability of facilities. Lessons taught by student teachers are supervised by the college instructors or tutors and the cooperating teachers. They are expected to advise the students and assess their performance. It is said that the assessment is highly subjective and the tutors confine their advice within their subject areas. The student teachers are assessed for the purpose of certification on the basis of results on final examinations and teaching practice. The final examinations have in the past been prepared by each teacher training college and then approved by the Ministry of Education. But now the latter prepares the final examinations. The examinations cover almost all the subjects offered by the colleges; these subjects are further divided into content and teaching methods. The examinations are formal and the student teachers are required to adhere to set answers.
The introduction of the new Zambia Primary Course materials into the primary schools in 1967 necessitated the training and preparation of teachers at both the pre-service and in-service levels. Teachers and student teachers had to be trained in the content and teaching strategies of the new course materials in order for the course to succeed. Teachers received two-week courses conducted at workshops in selected school centers at the beginning of the year at which the early lessons were gone over in some detail. Subsequent lessons were covered at teachersĂ meetings in schools under the guidance of trained supervisors. Teachers in the first grade classes in the demonstration schools of primary teacher training college were given introductory courses by teacher training college staff and members of the regional inspectorates. But in 1967 it was discovered by means of class observations that the teachers did not know how to use the new materials of the ZPC. So the Ministry of Education decided to mount refresher courses in colleges of education where groups of teachers were sent for periods of three months or one school term. In 1967, Mufulira and Kitwe Teacher Training Colleges, located in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, started training student teachers on the new ZPC materials. By 1968 all the remaining primary teacher training colleges began training their student teachers to teach the new course. In 1970, the National Inservice Training College was established at Chalimbana to cater for the retraining of teachers each term. At the time of writing, the project of re-training teachers still is in progress because not all inservice teachers have received the training on the new ZPC materials. From 1965 to about 1969 the duration of the preservice primary teachersĂ course was one year. In 1969, the period of the course was extended by one more year, thus reintroducing the preservice two-year course and bringing to an end the emergency one-year residential course introduced in 1965 in order to produce as many teachers as possible to man the increased number of primary schools. Upon completion of the course the trained teachers were posted to the primary schools on teaching assignments by the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education policy stipulates that all ZPC classes should be taught only by trained teachers who have received all their training or at least inservice training in English teaching. Teachers who have not been trained in English teaching are visited by supervisors at their schools and have biweekly meetings with them to discuss their problems and difficulties they encounter during their use of the ZPC materials in the classrooms. At these meetings the supervisors go over the work that the teachers will have to teach during the following two weeks. In the lower primary grades, it is customary for the teachers of Grade 1 to move up with their classes to Grade 2, to Grade 3, and eventually to Grade 4. This ensures that the teachers get to know each pupil well and that they gain experience of using the materials of the four-year lower Zambia Primary Course. Whereas in the upper primary grades, the teachers rarely move up with the pupils to the next grades.
A General Description of the English Component of the Zambia Primary Course
In the lower primary grades (Grades 1 to 4), the teacher has two teachersĂ handbooks for each term for English--one covering English language teaching and the other the teaching of reading, controlled writing, and handwriting. The English language handbooks set out lesson by lesson all the English language to be taught. All the various drills on the vocabulary and sentence structures to be taught are spelled out in full for the teacher. He needs to make no detailed lesson notes on what he is going to teach, but has, of course, to prepare thoroughly the content and method detailed in the teachersĂ handbook.
The teachersĂ handbooks for reading contain modern teaching methods. By their use of group work in the early stages they ensure that each child reads at his own level and pace. Materials used for pre-reading and reading activities include templates, jig-saws, name cards, picture-matching sets, color cards, labels, cards for matching to words and pictures, picture lotto, word cards for the first seven readers, sentence cards, word-to-word matching cards, sentence-building sets, and two sets of command cards. Also, there are three work books (one for Grade 1 and two for Grade 2), a number of sets of work cards, and thirty-five wall charts. A play-back cassettophone and two pre-recorded cassettes are supplied to every school; these cassettes contain sound discrimination exercises and dialogues.
In the upper primary grades (Grades 5 to 7), there is one teachersĂ handbook for each term and a class reader for each term. The teachersĂ handbook contains English language and reading lessons. In addition to class readers, there are over fifty graded upper supplementary readers. Pupils read the latter in small groups according to their reading levels. Class readers are read by the pupils with the help of the teacher in preparation for doing seat work.
The ZPC is based on a child-centered, activity approach. Its methods are in line with modern educational practice. Under the ZPC methods the child is an active partner at every stage of the educative process. An essential feature of the ZPC is the grouping of pupils so every child can get some amount of individual attention. In this way, more opportunities are given to more children to develop their language skills, qualities of leadership, self-reliance, and cooperation. Furthermore, the English primary course incorporates the principle of direct method in language teaching. It is also situational in its early stages. This is dictated by: (1) the need to allow the children to operate easily in English in the life of the classroom and the school; and (2) the advisability of letting them deal with situations with which they are familiar, such as the home, the neighborhood, the village, the farm, the market, the store, and so on.
By the third year of the Zambia Primary English Course, the linguistic emphasis shifts away from the situational to the structural, and during the last five years the general intention is to provide the pupils with a grasp of all major structures. The rationale for this is that for the majority of the primary school-leavers, the end of Grade 7 marks the end of formal schooling, and also of formal English teaching. Under the course the approach is based on controlled response. For example, oral work is conducted largely by controlled response; all writing work is controlled writing; the reading matter is controlled in that it is specially written for the course, and no outside material is used. Teaching methods to be used are laid down in the teachersĂ handbooks, though there is enough provision for flexibility concerning the application of the course methodology on the part of the teacher.
Preview of the Study
Chapter II deals with the review of related literature for this study. It examines studies, reports, and papers done on second-language written instructional materials and courses of this nature. The intent of Chapter II is basically to inform this study and to indicate how this study moves beyond the related literature.
Chapter III describes the procedures used in the study. The sampling technique of the Zambia Primary English Course materials is spelled out. Further, the development of the ideal is made from the literature review of English as a second language, the literature on Zambia and ESL, and FryĂs Readability Scale or Formula for estimating the readability of passages. The ideal objectives, content, learning activities, teaching methods, socio-cultural factors, and readability formula are obtained. These constitute the ideal used, in Chapter IV, for reviewing the Zambia Primary English Course materials.
Chapter IV reviews the Zambia Primary English Course materials in terms of the ideal developed in Chapter III.
Chapter V makes conclusions based on the sub-purposes studied and on major findings from the review of the Zambia Primary English Course materials. It also makes recommendations for the revision of the language curriculum materials regarding the stated objectives, content, learning activities, teaching methods, socio-cultural factors, and readability of passages.

Sponsor: William C. Sayres
Dissertation Committee: Dwayne E. Huebner
Degree: Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University