Tag Archives: Language of Instruction

Language of Instruction in Kenya: Focus On Lower Primary in Schools in Rural Areas (Published)

The use of mother tongue as a language of instruction debate has been ongoing in Kenya as well as in other African countries with no consensus from researchers and policy makers. This paper focuses on the use of mother tongue in lower primary in schools in rural areas in Kenya and the reasons for deviations from guidelines that recommend the use of language of the catchment area in classes 1-3. This paper maintains that the use of mother tongue in the early years of schooling provides basic literacy skills necessary for learning in other subjects. Despite the benefits of use of mother tongue as the language of instruction in lower primary in schools in the rural areas, many primary schools in Kenya hardly use it for instruction. Not only does this paper recommend the use of mother tongue in lower primary in schools in rural areas in Kenya but also proposes that teachers perform the crucial role of enabling parents and other stakeholders in the education sector understand how mother tongue benefits the learner in the teaching learning process.

Keywords: Language of Instruction, Literacy, Mother tongue, Quality of Education, cognitive development, learner participation


This study examined the various cultural factors hindering the mastery of English language in Kilifi County. A sample of 236 respondents representing Students, pupils, head teachers, teachers, parents, religious leaders, Pwani University Language specialists, Ministry of Education officers was drawn from Tezo Location. The proposed study was a descriptive survey, and both qualitative and quantitative data was collected by means of self administered questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions, and scheduled interviews. Qualitative data was analysed by thematic analysis while quantitative data was analysed by simple descriptive statistics and ranking by participatory methods. The study identified the cultural practices that hinder good mastery of English as frequent usage of Kiswahili and Mother Tongue when speaking at home, the declaration that English is a foreign language and the belief by the local community that speaking in English at home is a sign of pride and disrespect. Based on the findings, recommendations were made on how to promote good English mastery in Kenyan Schools.

Keywords: : Academic Performance, Kiswahili language, Language of Instruction, Mastery of English, Mother tongue, language of interaction