Socio-environmental factors influencing language of instruction policy’s implementation in early childhood classrooms within lower primary schools in kasarani sub-county, kenya
The purpose of the study was to investigate the socio-environmental factors influencing the implementation of the language of instruction policy in early childhood classrooms in lower primary schools in Kasarani Sub-county, Nairobi County, Kenya. The need to carry out the study arose from the growing concern by various researchers that using the language of the catchment area (LOCA) or mother tongue (MT) as a medium of instruction in lower primary classes has been displaced by English. This is in spite of the research findings that language of the catchment area is crucial to the learning process. The specific objectives of the study were to: Determine the influence of socio-environmental factors such as teaching/learning materials, teachers’ competence, teachers and parents’ attitude on the implementation of language of instruction policy in early childhood classrooms in lower primary and suggest interventions to enhance its implementation. The study was guided by two theories: the Interdependence Hypothesis by Cummins (1978) published in1979 and that of Reasoned Action by Ajzen (1991).The researcher adopted a descriptive research design, using the survey method. All the l50 lower primary schools within the division, their head teachers/directors, 600 class teachers and 9000 parents formed the target population of the study. The research was carried out on a sample of 45 (30%) primary schools which were randomly selected according to strata, their head teachers, 90 teachers and a similar number of parents. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview schedules. Questionnaires for teachers and interview schedule were used to collect data. Prior to the study, piloting was conducted in five schools (two public and three private). Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to analyze data. Specifically, quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive analysis and data exploration. Preliminary reports and conclusions were based on descriptive statistics mainly frequency counts and percentages and presented using bar graphs, pie charts and frequency tables. Qualitative data were organized in themes and reported according to the research questions. Inferential statistics were used to analyze HO1-HO5 and tested using one-way Anova. This study was justified because despite the language of instruction policy stating that language of the catchment area should be used in early childhood classrooms in urban areas it had not been fully implemented. The study revealed that although majority of head teachers and teachers were aware of the language policy and supported the use of language of catchment area for instruction, teachers found it boring and challenging to use it to teach all subjects. Head teachers also found its use unnecessary and instead preferred utilization of English. Most parents also showed bias towards English because they similarly preferred their children being instructed in English than Kiswahili (language of the catchment area). The findings also reflected that teachers were not competent in the use of the language of the catchment area for instruction. In addition, instructional and learning resources were also not available for use by teachers in classes. Some of the suggestions made for intervention included: stepping up awareness of this policy to parents and teachers, training of teachers and in-servicing those already trained on the use of language of the catchment area (Kiswahili) for instruction and provision of teaching and learning resources written in the language of the catchment area.