Interfacing Language Research with Policy: The Case of Language in Education in Malawi

In March 1996 the Ministry of Education in Malawi issued a directive which stated that from then onwards mother tongues or vernacular languages would act as media of instruction in the first four years of primary education. Before this directive, Chichewa (Malawi’s national language) was the sole officially recognized medium of instruction in grades 1 to 4. The new policy came in a top-down style, and with no locally done research to support it. The first language survey was carried out in April 1996 in the Chiyao-speaking areas of Malawi. Surveys on Chitumbuka (1997), Chilomwe (1998) and Chisena (1998) subsequently followed. The mother tongue instruction policy has to date remained unimplemented, and its relevance and merits have been questioned by the general public. This has led the Ministry of Education to request the University of Malawi’s Centre for Language Studies to organize a national symposium on language policy review. The symposium, which was held in March 1999, clearly demonstrated that language policy in education requires a reasonable amount of research and consultations with the major stakeholders. Bibliogr., note.

Title:Interfacing Language Research with Policy: The Case of Language in Education in Malawi
Author:Kamwendo, G.H.
Year:2000
Periodical:Nordic Journal of African Studies
Volume:9
Issue:2
Pages:1-10
Language:English
Geographic term:Malawi
External link:http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol9num2/kamwendo.pdf
Abstract:In March 1996 the Ministry of Education in Malawi issued a directive which stated that from then onwards mother tongues or vernacular languages would act as media of instruction in the first four years of primary education. Before this directive, Chichewa (Malawi’s national language) was the sole officially recognized medium of instruction in grades 1 to 4. The new policy came in a top-down style, and with no locally done research to support it. The first language survey was carried out in April 1996 in the Chiyao-speaking areas of Malawi. Surveys on Chitumbuka (1997), Chilomwe (1998) and Chisena (1998) subsequently followed. The mother tongue instruction policy has to date remained unimplemented, and its relevance and merits have been questioned by the general public. This has led the Ministry of Education to request the University of Malawi’s Centre for Language Studies to organize a national symposium on language policy review. The symposium, which was held in March 1999, clearly demonstrated that language policy in education requires a reasonable amount of research and consultations with the major stakeholders. Bibliogr., note.