Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Si­fiso Nh­la­batsi

The clash be­tween Siswati and English poli­cies in schools has been blamed for the poor per­for­mance in Siswati at schools in the King­dom of Eswa­tini.

The poor per­for­mance has been ev­i­dent in the Eswa­tini Pri­mary Cer­tifi­cate (EPC) re­sults, where only 41 pupils out of over 600 pri­mary schools got As.

Teach­ers in the Siswati Panel have since ex­pressed their con­cerns on the is­sue of Siswati re­sults, say­ing Eswa­tini is the only coun­try that is hav­ing a prob­lem with its mother tongue and la­beled such as a shame.

Siswati Se­nior In­spec­tor Celiwe Mo­hamed has lashed out at poli­cies which do not pro­mote the Siswati lan­guage, say­ing such poli­cies and other fac­tors have con­trib­uted to the poor re­sults in Siswati.

The re­sults in­di­cated that there were only 41 pupils who man­aged to get As in Siswati un­der the Eswa­tini Pri­mary Cer­tifi­cate ex­am­i­na­tions (EPC).

Such did not go down well with those in the Siswati panel. The main cause for such poor re­sults, as pointed out by some teach­ers, is the clash be­tween English and Siswati in schools. Teach­ers said the prob­lem is that in schools, English is still a pass­ing sub­ject and most schools en­force the prac­tice of speak­ing English dur­ing school hours and this has had ad­verse ef­fects on Siswati, as pupils rav­elry speak the lan­guage.

Mak­ing things worse is that at pri­mary level, some teach­ers are forced to teach both sub­jects, Siswati and English and most of the time they en­force the prac­tice of speak­ing the for­eign lan­guage as op­posed to the mother tongue be­cause they know that if the learn­ers fail English, they will not be go­ing any­where as op­posed to fail­ing Siswati.

Teach­ers are of the view that as long as English is made a pass­ing sub­ject in schools, Siswati will al­ways suf­fer. The Siswati Se­nior In­spec­tor Mo­hamed said the pol­icy which states that ev­ery child in school must learn Siswati has al­ways been there.

She said it is schools, es­pe­cially pri­vate schools, which de­cided to ex­clude Siswati in their cour­ses and re­place it with other lan­guages such as French.

She said par­ents were lured into tak­ing their chil­dren into these schools, which teaches other lan­guages such as French as op­posed to Siswati. Mo­hamed said even back home, chil­dren nowa­days are taught to com­mu­ni­cate in English in­stead of their mother tongue.

She said this makes it hard for pupils to know Siswati bet­ter. She said teach­ers are faced with a huge chal­lenge, es­pe­cially at pri­mary level.

“We are try­ing our best but vele la­bant­fwana bafika ban­gasikhu­lumi leSiswati,” she lamented.

Mo­hamed said it seems Eswa­tini is the only coun­try that has a chal­lenge with its mother tongue.

She said when at­tend­ing con­fer­ences in other coun­tries, they have noted that peo­ple pride them­selves in their mother tongue, but here in the coun­try, there is a hul­la­baloo when it comes to the is­sue of Siswati.

As all sub­jects have pan­els, Mo­hamed said what she did as a Se­nior In­spec­tor for Siswati was to sit down with the panel that is re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the teach­ing and learn­ing of Siswati in the coun­try.

She said they sat down and came up with con­tri­bu­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions which they com­piled and will use in forg­ing a way for­ward in im­prov­ing the qual­ity of Siswati.

Mean­while, Swazi­land Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Teach­ers Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Sikelela Dlamini, in his state­ment, said he would like to alert the gen­eral pop­u­lace of Eswa­tini that un­less and un­til English is no longer re­garded as a fail­ing sub­ject, Emaswati chil­dren will be con­tin­u­ously thrown into the dust­bin of his­tory, adding to the high drop-out rate. Worth not­ing is that Manzini Re­gional Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer, Mlimi Mamba, once sup­ported the late Prime Min­is­ter Sibu­siso Barn­abas Dlamini’s idea that it was about time Siswati is con­sid­ered as a pass­ing sub­ject.

Mamba said he hoped that in the near fu­ture, en­try into ter­tiary will re­quire one to pass Siswati. A lot of teach­ers re­quested that govern­ment makes Siswati to be at par with English Lan­guage when it comes to ad­mit­tance at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

SUP­PORT: Manzini Re­gional Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer Mlimi Mamba.

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