LOITASA (completed)

LOITASA (Language of Instruction in Tanzania and South Africa)  is a NUFU project which started in January 2001  and will go on until the end of December 2011. It addresses key issues around the changing educational policies in Tanzania and  South Africa when it comes to the language in education policies.

About the project

The project entails the following components:

  • A comparative study of the policy regarding the Language of Instruction (LOI) in South Africa and Tanzania over the past two decades as well as the implementation of the policies and the way learners and teachers cope in the class-room situation.
  • An empirical study where a control class is taught through the medium of English and an experimental class is taught through a primary or home language. An experimental research design has been and is being used to find out differences in performances between teaching in Kiswahili/isiXhosa and teaching in English. This study has the following three components: a research component, a materials development component and a teacher development component.
  • In the first phase of the project (2001 -2006) we studied of the transition between primary and secondary schooling in Tanzania. In the second phase (2007 - 2011) we have strengthened some government primary schools in Tanzania where the LOI is Kiswahili to see what effect that has in relation to private English mediumThe program activities are twofold, consisting primarily of research activities but connected to the research also capacity building and training. The research activities involve both established researchers and Masters and doctoral students. The training component aims at capacity building, primarily in the South


As most NUFU projects the LOITASA project has, from the start, contained two elements, the one relating to staff development in the South, the other relating to research conducted by the three partners in cooperation. Our goal has been to contribute to capacity building in the South through the training in research of junior staff by senior academics. It has been important to have Masters and Ph.D. students with us in the project. The LOITASA project contains two different research components. The first research component is rather similar to a project which was sponsored by the Norwegian Research Council (NRC) from 2001 until 2005. Here the language policies of the two countries are described. How did they evolve the way they did? What are the forces working for the use of a familiar language as the language of instruction? What are the forces working for the use of English as the language of instruction? How do learners, students and teachers cope in the class-rooms under the present policies? To what extent are the policies implemented? The second research component of LOITASA involves an action component where we had planned an experiment where we would have some Form I and Form II classes in secondary schools in Tanzania and fourth, fifth and sixth grade classes in primary schools in South Africa taught in the mother tongue or at least in a language that is familiar to them (isiXhosa in the Western Cape region of South Africa, Kiswahili in Tanzania) in some subjects for two or more years in Tanzania and for three more years in South Africa. In South Africa we carried out the research almost as planned. In Tanzania we had to make some readjustments due to unforeseen political difficulties encountered in obtaining the necessary permission to carry out the experiment. We still crried out some experiments as planned but for shorter time. In the second phase we carry on a planned for the first phase in South Africa but now concentrating on mathematics. In Tanzania the objective in the second phase is to try to find out how children do in government primary schools where the LOI is Kiswahili if their school is strengthened through having sufficient text-books and teachers who receive in-service training in relation to children in private primary schools where the LOI is English, teachers earn more and there are sufficient textbooks.


In the first project period one doctoral candidate obtained her degree on the South African part of the project. She worked as a research assistant on a NRC project led by Birgit Brock-Utne and obtained her degree in 2005. Though the project was funded through the NRC it was closely connected to the LOITASA project group. One more candidate received her doctoral degree on the South African part of the project in 2007. This will be partly achieved by NUFU funding, and partly through funding from a special South African-Norwegian research grant. Two doctoral candidates received their doctoral degrees on the Tanzanian part of the project in 2007. This was achieved  through NUFU funding in combination with quota scholarships. Apart from these candidates, twelve master's students have written their theses on the Tanzanian part of the project. Nine of the students were Tanzanians studying in Norway through NORAD or quota scholarships, one a Norwegian with a grant from the NRC project and two Tanzanian students studying in Tanzania with NUFU funding. Four master 's students, two from South Africa studying in Norway on NORAD fellowship, one American and a Norwegian student have written their theses on the South African part of the project. All the four doctoral theses showed that children did better when they were taught in a familiar language, the language they normally speak (Kiswahili in Tanzania and isiXhosa in the black township Khaylitsha outside of Cape Town where our research project is based). At the moment (September 2010) there are three Ph.D.students connected to the LOITASA project studying in Norway (one Tanzanian student with quota funding, one Norwegian and one Icelandic student with university scholarships. They all three have received some LOITASA funding for participating in LOITASA workshops and doing field-studies) and one South African student studying at the University of the Western Cape. We hope to enoll yet another Tanzanian Ph.D. student with quota funding at the UiO in 2011 and have some NUFU funding for her in 2011 and also in 2012. We are also working to get another Ph.D.student enrolled at the University of Dar es Salaam from January 2011.

For the South African researchers the project has had an impact on staff development in so far as the South African project leader has been appointed Associate All the four doctoral theses showed that children did better when they were taught in a familiar language, the language they normally speak (Kiswahili in Tanzania and isiXhosa in the black township Khaylitsha outside of Cape Town where our research project is based)
Professor as well as Deputy Dean and has been appointed to the Advisory Committee to the task team to develop a language in education policy for the Western Cape. The NUFU Ph.D. scholar from South Africa, Vuyokazi Nomlomo, has been appointed to sit on the provincial language committee of the Western Cape.  She is now a Lecturer at the University of Western Cape. NUFU/quota Ph.D. scholar from Tanzania, Mwajuma Vuzo, who completed her masters in Norway in the spring of 2002, was in the beginning of the LOITASA project period appointed Ass.Lecturer in the Faculty of Education in Dar es Salaam.

Six books have so far been published from the project, three in Tanzania and three in South Africa ( Brock-Utne, Desai and Qorro (Eds) 2003,  2004,  2005, 2006, Qorro,Desai Brock-Utne (Eds) 2008, Desai,Qorro, Brock-Utne 2010)). A fourth book is now being edited and will be published in South Africa in 2006. The editorial team consists of a researcher from each of the three countries involved. Two chapters from the books have been translated into Kiswahili and been published as LOITASA booklets (Prah 2005, Galabawa and Lwaitama 2005). A DVD has also been produced from the South African part of the project, featuring interviews with all the three project coordinators. Learning material has been produced in isiXhosa in science, geography and mathematics for 4th , 5th and 6th grade learners in South Africa. In Tanzania learning material has been produced in Kiswahli in biology and geography for secondary school Form I students. Together with four other research projects from the University of Oslo all working with languages in Africa the LOITASA researchers conducted a large internternational conference in 2006. The conference was called Languages and Education in Africa and was attended by more than 200 participants. A book was edited based on the key-notes from the conference and a selection of papers (Brock-Utne and Skattum (Eds.) 2009.

The LOITASA researchers have written academic papers from the project which have been presented at international conferences and been published in refereed international journals. Some of the best Master's theses written by students on the project have been published in the report series of the Institute for Educational Research at the University of Oslo.

The researchers have, especially in Tanzania, also engaged themselves in public debates on the language of instruction issue in newspapers, in the radio and on television.


The project is a cooperation between the Department of Educational Research at the UiO, the Faculty of Education at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Cape, South Africa.


NUFU and NRC, quota and NORAD scholarships

Research category

Basic research with elements of applied research

Published Sep. 28, 2010 10:14 AM - Last modified June 24, 2015 3:46 PM


Birgit Brock-Utne

+47- 92848987 (cell)





  • Birgit Brock-Utne
  • Justinian Galabawa
  • Zubeida Desai
  • Greta Gudmundsdottir
  • Torill Aagot Halvorsen
Detailed list of participants
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