Teachers’ perceptions on using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the lower levels of Primary School in Manzini region of the Kingdom of Eswatini

Primrose Mabilisa, Zodwa Gcinaphi Nxumalo, Sithulisiwe Bhebhe

Abstract


This paper sought to establish teachers’ perceptions on the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the lower grade levels of primary school, grade 1-4. The paper adopted a qualitative approach where a case study research design was utilized. Data were collected from eight (8) grade 1-4 teachers in one primary school in the Manzini region of the Kingdom of Eswatini. The school was randomly selected and purposive sampling was used to select the teachers who participated. One on one interviews and questionnaires containing open- ended questions were used to collect data from the sampled teachers. The paper was based on the following research questions: what are teachers’ perceptions of using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the lower grade levels of primary school? How is teaching and learning affected by the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the lower grade levels of primary school? Data were analysed using thematic content analysis. The findings of the study revealed that there were challenges of using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction, as siSwati language is not developed or rather standardized so that every Liswati speaks the same dialect. Emaswati sometimes interpret one word in different ways. Again most schools admit multi- racial learners and these have a problem in understanding the siSwati. In addition, some learners are from English speaking environments as both their parents are educated and so are their siblings and friends. English is also a global language and therefore has a significant impact on students’ employment prospects when they grow up, the same thing cannot be said about siSwati. If learners learn in siSwati from the time they begin primary school, they are likely to struggle to learn in English at a later stage. Emphasis during teacher training is on the use of English as a medium of instruction. Based on the findings, the study recommends that teachers should be trained at college level to teach the subjects at primary school, in the mother tongue. Curriculum materials, teaching and learning materials should be written in the mother tongue.


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