State barricades: Educators’ inside story on mother-tongue education in a postcolonial Zimbabwean context
There is overwhelming evidence the world over on the pedagogical benefits of learning in one’s mother language. The Zimbabwean language-in-education policy enshrined in the 1987 Education Act (amended in 2006) allows mother-tongue use up to Grade 7. Contrary to the stated policy, primary school teachers continue to use English as the medium of instruction. The study, therefore, explored the experiences of fifteen rural primary school teachers, three school heads and two district school inspectors on factors that stifle effective implementation of the policy in Masvingo District of Zimbabwe. The postcolonial theory paradigm guided the study. The qualitative case study was employed where semi-structured questionnaires, focus group discussions and individual interviews were used to collect data from the purposefully selected participants. Findings indicated that one of the major barriers was state-related, as all the study participants were ignorant about the stipulations of the 2006 policy and how to implement it due to perceived inadequate policy dialogue between the policy-makers and policy implementers. Participants believed that the challenges they faced could be resolved and they proposed some intervention strategies. Recommendations were made on how to engage educators in the implementation of the policy for the benefit of rural primary school learners.