Saturday, June 11, 2011

The King's Diary: Why We Teach in English

Dear Me

The other day I visited a secondary school. Expanding access to secondary education has been one of my favourite policies. It has made me popular with parents because many pupils who complete primary school can now continue their studies. At the same time my supporters benefit from the construction required.

Having pushed this policy for so long, I was curious how successful the project really was. While inspecting the building I decided to do a small investigation. I asked a Form 3 student: “How will your secondary education be of use to you and to Tanzania?”

His answer left me with little doubt: “In my secondary education used to find the political in swahili. I dont know why dont you find all subjects in secondary in Swahili others in English. I think if the subjects we can find in swahili the secondary it is their happy to enjoyed the subject except eny reason”. The answer was clearly incomprehensible.

Then I switched language and asked the same question in Kiswahili. This time I got a sensible answer: “Elimu yangu nitakayopata katika shule ya sekondari itaninufaisha mimi pamoja na taifa langu. Nitashiriki kikamilifu katika kazi ya kujitolea nafsi yangu kuondoa ujinga, magonjwa, nitashiriki kikamilifu kuwafundisha wazee ambao hawakupata nafasi ya kusoma” (The secondary education that I will get will benefit my country and me. I will participate fully in volunteering in person to eradicate ignorance, disease, I will participate fully in teaching the old who did not get the chance to study).

I was very pleased with the results of my research. More than 1.4 million students are enrolled in secondary schools. As a consequence there are at least 1 million families who are proud of the achievements of their offspring. By implication these families are grateful to me, the King, the one who has created this opportunity. At the same time these students do not learn much because they do not understand the language of instruction. And that’s wonderful too.

Parents are happy because their offspring made it into secondary school. Teachers are happy because they have jobs. My inner circle is happy because the children educated by the public education system will never form a threat to themselves or their positions. Even their children (who go to private schools) will never be outcompeted by these uneducated ignoramuses.

That night I slept really well. Rarely perform projects as satisfactory as this one.

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