Central Province Education Officer Jennipher Banda has called on teachers in the province not to hide in the name of using a familiar local language at lower grades to abandon the English language.
Mrs. Banda said teachers in the province need to consider English as a medium of official communication to avoid pupils from failing in national examinations which are conducted in the English language.
She said it is important to use local familiar language for lower grades to facilitate transfer of knowledge and concepts.
Mrs. Banda says research has revealed that many pupils fail because they lack the appropriate language skills needed for them to communicate in different subject areas.
Speaking yesterday when she officially opened a four days Inter district debate, quiz, spelling and essay writing competition held at Mumbwa Secondary school, Mrs. Banda said she does not expect teachers to fail to communicate effectively using the English language by hiding in the name of using a familiar local languages.
The Central province PEO added that research has also shown that poor literacy levels among learners is as a result of the use of English from Grade one to learn initial basic skills which government has reversed by encouraging the use of familiar local languages at lower primary level.
Mrs. Banda however, pointed out that the Ministry of Education’s intention is by no means to diminish the importance of English by promoting the use of familiar language at primary level, as English still remains the official medium of communication and the gateway to higher education as well as the international labour market.
She expressed concern that even 50 years after independence, literacy levels are still very low even among citizens who have attained formal education.
And Senior Education Standards Officer for Languages Jeremiah Mwanza said the competition will help leaners to improve in writing skills as well as spellings.
He added that Debate sharpens leaners public speaking skills apart from promoting a culture of tolerance for opposing views.
Mr. Mwanza added that the initiative by the Central Province Languages Teachers Association of Zambia will also help learners to counter technology effects on spellings where pupils use short Messages (sms) even when writing academic papers.
Districts represented are Mumbwa, Kabwe, Serenje, Mkushi and Chisamba.
Others are Chibombo, Itezhi-Tezhi, Luano and Chitambo.