The impact of local language instruction on lower primary school learners in Chitokoloki, Zambia.

Zambia, a multilingual nation, faces the challenge of selecting an appropriate language of instruction in schools due to over 70 languages spoken within its boundaries. In response to this linguistic situation, Zambia has developed an educational framework that emphasizes the use of familiar local languages as a medium of instruction from grade one to four in public primary schools. This research investigated the impact of mother tongue-medium of instruction on pupils’ quality of learning in Zambian primary schools. The study engaged 22 teachers from selected public, community, and private primary schools and 20 parents of Chitokoloki zone in Zambezi district. The research found that mother tongue-medium of instruction portrays pupils’ ethnicity and national identity better. The acquisition and application of skills are also more efficient when taught and explained in the learners’ mother tongue. Moreover, learners in public schools that use mother tongue instruction perform better in practical subjects than their counterparts in private schools where English is the medium of instruction.

Keywords: Mother tongue, medium of instruction, ethnicity, local language, language policy.