The Missing Link in the Medium of Instruction Controversy: Voices of Pupils and Teachers

  • Morrin Phiri University of Zimbabwe
  • Darmarris Kaguda University of Zimbabwe
  • Dumoluhle Mabhena Parliament of Zimbabwe


This paper revisits the controversial issue of language in education. It is based on a study that was carried out at David Livingstone Primary School in Harare. The study unveils the perceptions of pupils and teachers on the impact of the medium of instruction on academic achievement, which the researchers felt was the missing link in this debate. Whilst teachers and some pupils prefer the use of indigenous languages as communicative tools, they are crippled in a system that emphasizes and promotes English; therefore, their resort to the use of English is not by choice but designed by the policy makers. From the findings, it is the submission of this paper that learners learn better and benefit more from the education system if the medium of instruction is the same language they use at home. In a bid to accommodate students from various linguistic backgrounds and consequently improve results, the study recommends the adoption of a model that fosters multilingual competencies and boosts learning achievement, that is, a strong additive bilingual model.

Author Biographies

Morrin Phiri, University of Zimbabwe
Lecturer, Department of Curriculum & Arts Education, Faculty of Education
Darmarris Kaguda, University of Zimbabwe
Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts
Dumoluhle Mabhena, Parliament of Zimbabwe
Research Officer, Parliament of Zimbabwe

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1013-3445