CONFLICTING POLICIES BETWEEN ENGLISH AND SISWATI
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.