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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Keep politics out of the new education policy-Phiri

General News Keep politics out of the new education policy-Phiri


GOVERNMENT has advised politicians not to misconstrue the newly-introduced policy on education to teach children in one of the seven local languages from grades one to four for political expediency.

Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Childhood John Phiri says Government is aware that some politicians want to make political mileage out of the new policy.

Dr Phiri said this on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZNBC) Sunday Interview.

“Do not use language to build up emotions in people because the consequences are dire.

“Government is aware that some politicians are going round peddling lies that the PF administration wants to use the policy to make Bemba as a dominant language,” he said.

Dr Phiri explained that there has been no dramatic departure from the previous policy where local languages have been taught at grade one level.

“This new education policy is meant to help the majority of our children access education but I am surprised that only the component on language has been isolated and blown out of proportion,” the minister said.

Dr Phiri said scientific evidence has shown that children grasp things easily when they use a language they are familiar with.

He said for a long time, the nation has been zoned in Tonga, Bemba, Lozi, Kaonde, Nyanja, Lunda and Luvale languages.

“Please don’t use the issue of language for emotive reasons. Most of these languages are dialects. For example, I came from a home where we spoke Tumbuka but I was taught in Nyanja,” Dr Phiri said.


  1. “This new education policy is meant to help the majority of our children access education but I am surprised that only the component on language has been isolated and blown out of proportion,” the minister said.

    Useless MP and minister. You are the type Sata talked about. It is the language component that we don’t agree with. How will my children in Choma who are Nyanja speaking and who dont speak Tonga at home understand Tonga as a language of instruction at school. Dont just copy policies from countries where all people in the country speak at least one particular language and impose it on a country like Zambia. Even where this was tried like Tanzania, nothing special has been achieved. Are Tanzanians more literate than us? That is why politicians have concluded what they have.

    • Awe, apa pena mwaluba mdala. what is the percentage of those children in choma who speak nyanja at home and dont speak tonga?then why should the tonga speaking kids not benefit from a policy that will make education easier for them for the sake of less than 5% none tonga speaking children. the needs of the many far outweigh the needs of the one. But when it comes to english,am wondering why you wont argue the same point, because the percentage of children in choma who dont speak english at home but are taught in english at school is by far more than the 5% in the case of non-tonga speaking children.The problem, is we think education is english, yet we forget that the true purpose of education is to impart knowledge in someone and then allow it to grow to fit the individual,community etc

    • Education in english for most parts forces our children to regurgitate what they learn, they dont necessarily understand. How can they analyse issues when they dont even know the subject? how do they make sound decisions when they dont know what the problem is all about even. By the time, the English language reaches a level competency in them ninshi nabakulako.compared to the native speaker, they then would have lagged behind in years in terms of development and retention of knowledge. How can you not see this, it is so clear as day.What would you rather have, a good english speaking child or a child with a vast knowledge. Russian,germans, koreans, japanese,chinese dont teach in english but have developed their economies.why cant we do the same in our languages.Free your mind my brother.

    • Am passionate about this topic, so do pardon me for the requent posts. Lets argue out this thing and find lasting solutions. I know some will say then how will our children communicate with the outside world when they are now managers in industry etc. well, then while in primary,senior or junior high school, we can teach english, spanish,chinese,german, depending on our countries foreign trade relations, as secondary language subjects, the same way we used to teach nyanja, bemba, lozi etc. this is what happens in Germany,Russia, Korea, Japan. their students,pupils major in any foreign language of their choice or depending on career choice. Our language is our culture and we should not lose it, for the sake of globalisation. Education without thorough knowledge of self is useless.

    • Kolwe you are a real monkey. You just want your language to be promoted ultimately when this system has failed. I’m I the only one with non-Tonga speaking children in Choma. How many Bemba, Nyanja, Lozi, Lunda, Kaonde, etc. people live in Choma? How many Tonga speaking people do not use Tonga in their homes? Do you even have technical terms in local languages? What is Mathematics, biology? What is a molecule, atom, ion, electron, isotope, and proton? Etc. You don’t even have terms and you want to use your languages which have very little in them? Can’t you see that this scheme is devised by the ruling class so that your children will struggle like Tanzanians do in public fora so that their children who won’t attend these same schools will have it easy to rule over your illiterate kids?

    • Imagine, as a Zambian of Indian origin, how are my children going to learn. I moved them from a Government school to private something against my wish because of high fees, now they even want private schools to follow suit. What kind of Government is this? At least there should be exceptions.

    • They strategically study foreign languages so that they can later send them to these countries to study further. They also have an established system and language at home which they start with. Our languages are just not ready for this. Ask Tnzanians. It is true that if a child was taught in his own language, they would grasp things properly but our languages dont even have those terms and we have a problem that we have too many languages making it very difficult to implement that accross the board, compounded with also the mopvemnet of people around the country. Many more children will suffer than those that will benefit. English is a unifier of all tribes. What serious technical stuff is taught at grade 4? Very little. Uop to that level it is just elementary and more of language.

    • So at grade 4 they start using english and by the tiome they are grade 9 that is when they are starting to speak english well but meanwhile they already have advanced in technical stuff. Too late. This is a disaster. What govt should do is maybe introduce early childhood learning of english so that when they are in grade 1, they already understand english. Local language instruction is not the way to go. It will never work. Anyway 2016 is around the conor to do away with all this PF nonsense.

    • In Egypt, the language of instruction in schools, universities is arabic. there is no word in arabic which is equivalent to electron for example. so how do they teach physics,engineering without this vital word which builds up the whole field of electrical engineering for example?well,i will tell you,they write it differently obviously in arabic,but they still say it as electron.check the google translate to prove me wrong.type electron in english and then say translate in arabic,then listen to the arabic part of the translation.so whats the point here?you dont have to translate everything into chokwe,mbunda or bisa. you say: “lelo nachiya ku town, ukusanga takuli ama bus.” is everything translated here? but you do understand what is being talked about isnt it? the same thing in school.

    • OK. I have thought about a good solution. Let PF introduce Bemba as a medium of instruction only in their Muchinga Province as an experiment for five years (unfortunately the masses say kuya come 2016). We would have seen if their kids would be better off in grade 7 and their after.

    • If the Muchinga pilot project is successful, then the whole country would adopt it. That is what normal governments do on very important issues. Not guesswork. Many policies and systems we have, including the constitution were just copied from the west without even considering the context it was copied from, hence the disaster we see in our governance. Careful!

    • Do we even have teachers to teach in these langauges? So all Tonga teachers= SP, Bemba teachers= NP+MuchingaP+LP, Nyanjas= EP etc. Nonsense. This is grade 4 level of thinking. It won’t just work in Zambia.

    • @bufi,boza,kubeja – even in english, not all the words they use are 100% english. there are thousands of borrowed english words now accepted in the Cambridge and oxford dictionaries as standard. i will give you examples.
      Impala – from zulu (im-pala)
      Marimba – from swahili
      safari – from Swahili travel, ultimately from Arabic.
      so what you see here, is the english language borrowed words for thing that were not known to them from those languages that had a description for them. but they still maintained their language and only expanded their vocabulary. in short an electrical engineer would teach, say; “ma electronz ngati yapita mu wire yama gesi, ya ma tontesa wire uyu chifukwa,…….” . this is what it would sound like for example. And am sure a chewa speaking child will understand

    • @ Kolwe
      Whilst I agree in principle with you, one issue which you have not address prevents me from fully agreeing with you.
      At present, official language in the Republic of Zambia is English. All the Laws and documentations are printed in English. If your approach is correct (which is not) R U then condemning millions of Zambian Citizens to perpetual ignorance not just of the Laws, but by association, prevent them from understanding their rights?

    • @Bufi, you may just have a point there to say before implementing it on a wider scale, there could be a trial program on a certain school or province, but am hoping that the minister seeing as educated as he is, already has data supporting this policy. whether it be a case study in zambia, malawi or tanzania.
      This language thing can work in zambia.

    • @142 – Do you know all the laws of zambia? or do you at times feel, you need to consult the books on some of the laws of zambia and read up on what is not clear with regards to some of your rights as a citizen? and the laws, that you do know by heart, how did you get to know them. was it oral or did you read them somewhere? So what can prevent our language experts at the university of zambia translating the laws of zambia into chewa, lozi, bisa etc and then printing some for the libraries,government departments and uploading them on the internet just as we do the english version of our laws or hearing, teaching them orally as you learnt some of the zambian laws in english. nothing is impossible. nobody will be condemned. if the bible was translated why cant we do the same with our laws

    • @yougesh patel – For anyone to become a citizen in england, they need to speak english, the same in the US, Canada etc. So your children should be proficient in a local language if they are citizens or permanent residents. Only in Africa, will the criteria to be citizen require them to speak and write in a language that is foreign to itself. there are no exceptions for citizens, but if you still insist that your children learn in english they can go to International school of lusaka, or american school etc. dont cheat here that there are no exceptions. its just not true.

    • Studies have been conducted that show that it is easier to learn in one’s own language. that is the language you think in after all. You dont need to translate. Zambia is not like other countries like East african countries were they all speak Swahili but which has no tribe. People even like it. We have no dominant language spoken and liked by everyone (offcourse Sata is trying to impose Bemba). We used to speak Nyanja in the Kaunda era except for some Bembas and Lozis. We liked it because the owners of the language were not imposing. If we had a language we all speak in the country and most families have adopted that language in their homes like Swahili, Russian, Korean, chinese (they also have dialects) etc in those countries, then the system would have been fair and worked in Zed.

    • Hands down to Kolwe!!! bigge nimwebo!! your points are well argued out, indeed you are passionate about the topic!!

  2. Sadly Dr or whatever you are that policy stems from your political ideas in the PF so i don’t understand what you mean by not politicizing it when it is in itself political.
    Use english that can be understood as you are confusing yourself .What research was done on that policy and can you tell the nation for how long .First we heard it from Winter Kabimba going on about it before you started championing it so the truth sir is that its Political period!.Stop finding excuses for your like of direction and when somebody condemns you pull the political argument .Truth is sir you should never have been a politician as you educational talents lie elsewhere.

  3. Ive just been transfered to Luapula province but I cant go with my kids because they dont understand bemba, they is a big possibility that they will become dull.
    Anyway PF has decampaigned itself bigtym why all these changes.
    1. you change retirement age
    2. you scrap off gratuity
    3. you change school curricullum without consulting/
    the list is endless, you even fire nurses, wait and see.

  4. There is a reason Dinarsors are extinct, they had to pave way for more intelligent life forms. Same way colonial minded people should pave way for 21st century thinking.

    • rather vague. who is the dinosaur, colonial minded person in this case? Your argument is lukewarm , its neither here or there. are you for the idea of languages in school or not.

  5. When these muppets get kicked out in 2016 I will join the winning party in the bonfire celebrations when this ridiculous education policy is burnt out. This minister is really a waste of space.

  6. John Phiris thinking is very far from bringing development. I have heard people sya you have to go to your village once in a while and I just laugh. Go forward mwebantu. Go to England Go to USA Australia get exposed learn other thind may be you can come and event something. Stop the era of cultural nshi nabanani. In short make your life easy. If you are going to your village one in while to take a tractor, to lobby for electricity, take iron roofing sheets no problem Do not go to get your fathers whichcraft in the hope that you will get you neighbor car and wife. ok

    • Your are the epitome of what it means to be lost. to be brain washed. You are so eager to spit on your own culture,language, mores for other peoples’. when will you learn to love yourself. You are the same type of people who would betray your own brothers into slavery just for a piece of cloth, or as shaka put it in that tv series,something shiny. Watch that part again and see why we are trapped as a people. we have been lured into the so called western civilization with small shiny things which are irrelevant if you ask me and just cant let go. You cant let go of their language, you think it is the language of the gods or should i write God. free yourself from this mental slavery man. Can you tell me what was wrong with the way we lived as people before the european invasion?

    • @ kolwe
      R U living in the 21st century or you are still carrying baobab chip on the shoulder?
      Mental slavery has multifaceted form and it looks like you have become slave of PF.
      By the way, if you cannot discuss without offending, please go and f*** yourself

    • @142 – if what i wrote offended dodoma, then am sorry, but the truth is truth. what would you call a person who thinks going forward is going to US and the UK. There is still more than enough we can learn from our ancestors and their ways of life. Example, up to now, it is still a marvel for the British, the americans to explain to us how the pyramids were built. With all the advances made in terms of structural engineering,they still cant explain the phenomenon of the pyramids in Egypt. and did you know that the people who built those pyramids were your african black ancestors(not arabs)? but you still want to run to the west for knowledge yet greater knowledge lays there in your midst waiting. is this not a brain washed mentality i ask you? ubuloshi is something worth the study.

    • @ kolwe
      I am old man and have been leaving overseas for more than 40 years. My children have been educated in different countries and four of them are now independent (other two are still in the school). Even when in a foreign country, I always insisted and sometime bullied them to learn “mother” language and history/culture of their mother and father.
      But, English to day is a “lingua franca” of the world. There is no argument. If you want your kids to achieve more than you in life, are you going to give them educational advantage? When they are going to learn faster, at the age 6-10 or 10-14?
      That is the real issue.
      No body object to local language, history and culture.
      Objection is based on misinterpretation of UN survey which does not say “local” but “familiar”.

    • Kolwe**
      somebody has already pointed out that you have held your own quite well. I echo that.
      I see it like this:
      1. When people think language, they think – Bemba, hegemony
      2. When people think culture, they think – primitive, devilish
      3. When people think English, they think – Civilization, Education, Intelligent, Godly

      A panel of Zambian linguists, over a decade ago, concluded that Zambians don’t speak English but a semblance of it. But they want to delude themselves into thinking they do.

      The proposal to use local languages started about 30 yrs ago. But we are so conditioned to think we can only develop if we sounded like ‘THEM.’ And they sit back and laugh at our IGNORANCE. They say, “We really got them, didn’t we?”

  7. “Hon” Phiri says “I am surprised that only the component on language has been isolated and blown out of proportion.”

    Really, you’re surprised….. SURPRISED?!?!? Come on, Minister! If you didn’t see this coming how well did you think this out? Please don’t tell us this is another half-baked policy!

    Also, it’s just bizarre (perhaps even more bizarre than being “surprised”) for the Minister to say not to politicize the policy when he and others have argued that the policy is good because it is part of the Party Manifesto. Hello, the PF Manifesto!

  8. This policy is based on a UN report and scientific research as well as preserving our culture. it that simple. no politics, no tribalism , no crap.

    • which culture – the bemba and Nyanja culture. I am Ushi, and you tell me my children should be taught in Chewa (imagine not even in Chiyanja, the language of play) just because I work in Lusaka?

    • @wawa-in support for the development of this policy, i would say, each school have a language department in which there would be secondary languages taught to all pupils.Say in eastern province, the language of instruction is Nyanja,then we can have some schools within the province which offer as secondary languages, english, french,chewa, tonga, lozi, german and other Zambian languages such that all the languages in zambia are taught atleast in one or more of the schools plus the international languages as french,english,
      japanese,spanish etc remember we only have about 43-45 languages. and how many schools are in zambia?So Chizongwe tech.school can teach in nyanja and offer french, lozi,bisa,english or kaonde as secondary language subjects.Another school different secondary languages

    • @ The Matrix
      Just read what you say. You are communicating with fellow Zambian in English. And do you know why? Do you know why the laws are written in English?
      Because English is the ONLY common thing between various tribes which does not give any advantage to any particular tribe.
      Think and then explain, if you can, how seven preferred local tribal languages are going to contribute to the unity of at least 73 tribes in Zambia?

    • @ 8.2, A couple (non-tribal) answers to your question would be:

      1) There is no doubt that Zambian children need to be proficient in English to be productive in the workplace and to make Zambia competitive for the next 50 years; and

      2) It’s a whole lot easier to learn language when you are young.

      Yes, I’m sure there are benefits to learning in a familiar language, but shouldn’t children at least be exposed to English in a systematic way – i.e. learn the alphabet including the difference between Rs and Ls and start to do some reading and writing already in Grades 1-4?

      If transition to English is still part of the curriculum, surely the “Hon” Minister would have done far better to talk of this rather than to feign “surprise” and defend tribal zones.

    • The only problem we are having here is what i always refer to as the educated illiterates.. yes we speak in english, yes we write in english but the point still remains our local languages are as important as anything and speaking english doesnt make you modern or educated. many countries use the former colonial power languages,but atleast this is a starting point and it takes time to transform a system to have it using many languages as a mode of communication, you can either be proud that you are african or forever think a certain god lies in a certain language and skin. To me this is an inferioty complexity for many people. have met zambians in the diaspora who are not comfortable saying were they are from and defending their culture so i’ll end here.

  9. This so-called ‘new policy’ is, in fact, not so new. My son, who is a sophomore at Unza, was taught in one of the seven vernaculars during the first four years of his primary education. This was during part of the Chiluba administration.

  10. This educated Minister is a disgrace! I am sure his relatives who thought he could assist them develop Tumbuka are crying! Pitty Tumbukas, its a loss!
    You cannot try to bring Bemba through back door in the name of policies. All well meaning Zambians who are not part of the seven languages should work together to kick PF out of Government. How does a Namwanga child learn Bemba and you say it is a familiar language?

    You don’t realise how annoyed we are the Namwangas, the Lenjes, the Lambas, the chokwes, the Bundas etc to systematically destroy our tribes. You will only realise when you are naked.
    Let local languages be subjects only, not as a means of teaching all subjects and we should infarct introduce more languages.

    • you seem not to understand a thing you are saying… I pity you..but ya I agree with you, more languages need to be considered.

    • @Webo == should have made that argument when somebody made that decision at Radio Zambia. When was the last time there was a news cast in Namwanga? Begin from there and let’s see where you end up: for or against the use of Zambian languages.

  11. Bravo Honorable Minister! It is wrong to inculcate feelings of inferiority in innocent children by making them despise anything local and traditional. This is multilingualism in practice where using African languages in class is not criminalized in an African context.

  12. …ah Dr. Phiri please, spare us the agony of… U have briefly been quite on this topic and what I thot was that u had listened to the out cry of the masses and politely withdrew the policy back to the drawing board for some serious surgery.

    You said ‘children grasp things easily when they are taught in the language they are familiar with’..no query with that but is that applicable or practical in most parts of the country?..certainly not. So many similar awkward (unfavourable) situations have been highlighted…where a family speak a certain ‘mother’ tongue at their home and are in an area where a different language is predominant…e.g a Tonga family staying in Kasama, a Tumbuka family staying in Solwezi and such situations are all over.

    It is a policy therefore political

  13. PF got mixed up on this one. The UN report talks about familiar language and NOT Local Language. There is a big difference. My children are more familiar with Lenje and English – so they should be taught in English or Lenje. Why should they be taught in some ‘local’ language (chichewa from Malawi) which they do not understand? I think PF lacks depth and Logic.

  14. How is possible to keep politics out of the new policy of education when said policy is politically motivated?
    Do we want our children to speak Zamglish like Mr. Kabimba?
    Indeed, consequence of half baked policy are potentially catastrophic for future generations!

    • @142They already do. “Me I am tired-i,” “borrow me K20,” “Move a motion,” Whil-est,” “among-est,” “impor-ntant,” “busine-nsi,” “enga-nge,” “chirsma-nsi” “iwe iwe, that is not it-i,” “My head is paining me,” “iliko buluto,” “that was added to rit,” “they are already at the church, isn’t it?” and the least continues.

      Then listen to Guy Scott speak his ‘familiar language,’ like he never left Scotland.

      Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves you live in your own country and strive to master a language that is not your own?

      Cursed to hate and despise yourselves!

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