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International Review of Education

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 803–822 | Cite as

Towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Revisiting language of instruction in Tanzanian secondary schools

  • Mwajuma VuzoEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Research has been conducted on the detrimental effects of using a foreign language for learning in Tanzania’s secondary schools. While most studies recommend the use of a familiar language for instruction, the use of a foreign language in secondary education in Tanzania has been maintained. This has many consequences on the quality of education, and contributes to student dropout. Presenting a study carried out in the semi-rural areas of Dar es Salaam region in Tanzania, this article examines the extent to which language of instruction (LOI) contributes to school dropout. It postulates that the use of a foreign language for teaching and learning in Tanzanian secondary schools hinders the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study’s findings, drawn from exploratory and qualitative narrative research, indicate that, notwithstanding the presence of several other factors, the use of a foreign language as LOI is a major contributor to student dropout. The use of an unfamiliar language of instruction contributes to students’ lack of interest in and disengagement from learning, which ultimately pushes them out of the school system. This is because students usually perform poorly when an unfamiliar language is used as the language of examination and in classroom interaction. The study also reveals that the voices of both teachers and students are not in consonance with what would be expected in an ideal classroom teaching and learning environment. Student dropout from secondary education caused by an inappropriate LOI leads to myriad further problems which, in turn, negatively affect realisation of the SDGs in Tanzania. This article, therefore, concludes that LOI needs to be strongly factored into the development agenda. In order to ensure equitable access to quality secondary education, as required by SDG 4, the Government of Tanzania needs to adopt a language policy that promotes effective teaching and equal access to quality education in secondary schools.

Keywords

language of instruction (LOI) sustainable development equal access quality education 

Résumé

Atteindre les objectifs de développement durable : revoir la langue d’instruction dans le cycle secondaire en Tanzanie – Des études ont examiné les effets néfastes d’une langue étrangère utilisée pour l’apprentissage dans les établissements secondaires de Tanzanie. Bien que la majorité d’entre elles recommandent l’usage d’une langue familière pour l’instruction, le pays a maintenu une langue étrangère dans l’enseignement secondaire. Cette décision a de nombreuses répercussions sur la qualité de l’éducation et contribue au décrochage scolaire. Présentant une étude menée dans les zones semi-rurales de la région de Dar es Salaam (Tanzanie), l’auteure de l’article explore dans quelle mesure la langue d’instruction contribue à l’abandon scolaire. Elle postule que l’usage d’une langue étrangère pour l’enseignement et l’apprentissage dans les établissements secondaires de Tanzanie freine l’atteinte des Objectifs de développement durable (ODD) énoncés par les Nations Unies. Les résultats tirés d’un travail de recherche exploratoire et qualitative narrative indiquent que, malgré la présence de plusieurs autres facteurs, l’usage d’une langue étrangère comme langue d’enseignement contribue de manière prépondérante au décrochage scolaire. L’emploi d’une langue peu familière aux élèves a pour conséquences une perte d’intérêt et un désengagement de leur part, ce qui finit par les expulser du système scolaire. Car ils obtiennent généralement des résultats insuffisants quand la langue d’interaction en classe et d’examen ne leur est pas familière. L’étude révèle en outre que les opinions des enseignants et des élèves divergent quant à leurs attentes envers un environnement idéal d’enseignement et d’apprentissage. L’abandon scolaire dans le cycle secondaire causé par une langue d’instruction inappropriée génère une myriade de problèmes supplémentaires, qui à leur tour ont des retombées négatives sur la réalisation des ODD en Tanzanie. L’auteure conclut que la langue d’enseignement doit par conséquent être fermement intégrée au programme de développement. En vue d’assurer un accès équitable à un enseignement secondaire de qualité, comme le réclame l’Objectif 4, le gouvernement de Tanzanie doit adopter une politique linguistique qui favorise un enseignement efficace et un accès équitable à une éducation de qualité dans l’enseignement secondaire.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research presented in this article was funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V., and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania

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