The English language curriculum for state primary schools in Burundi: an appraisal of its adequacy and implementation.
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Burundi‟s entry into the East African Community in 2005 led to English and Kiswahili languages being introduced in state primary schools so as to improve the population‟s proficiencies in these two languages. The measure raised immediate concerns due to the lack of qualified teachers and adequate learning resources to teach these subjects. As far as English is concerned, although significant efforts have been deployed in the way of producing textbooks and training the practicing teachers, the efficiency of the proposed curriculum and its implementation in addressing the needs of the learners are yet to be established; hence the purpose of this study. The research objectives were: to analyze the textbooks; examine the resources and methods proposed for teaching and learning English; to assess the preparedness of teachers and school principals to implement the curriculum; to establish the effectiveness of the support provided to teachers implementing it; and to find out the challenges faced in actual teaching. The study drew on two theories, namely, the educational planning and policy theory, and the communicative approach for the 21st theory. It adopted a descriptive and exploratory design. Data was collected via a content analysis of all six Student‟s Books and their accompanying Teacher‟s Books, a classroom observation carried out in 5th and 6th grades, and questionnaires administered to a population sample of 371 teachers, 80 school principals in two provinces, one urban, and the other, rural, as well as to 8 curriculum developers for the primary school level. Both quantitative and qualitative data were obtained, which were analyzed descriptively using means, frequencies, and percentages; and presented in frequency tables, bar graphs, and pie charts. The findings established that the curriculum goals and objectives were not clearly spelt out to guide teaching; that curriculum contents were imbalanced with a tendency for more contents in the lower grades; and linguistic contents being irregularly distributed across the six syllabi. Also, the teaching approaches were found to lean toward the mastery of mainly vocabulary, paying little attention to meaning. It was further found that the in-service training programme had not reached all the teachers and school principals, and that the beneficiaries were generally not satisfied with its achievements. A rampant shortage of textbooks in the schools visited for classroom observation was also established. The recommendations were geared towards an improvement of the curriculum, based on the research findings, and an empowerment of teachers and curriculum designers so that they can better accomplish their interlinked duties of teaching, assessing, monitoring, and supporting implementation of the curriculum.