The Change of the Language of Instruction in Teaching Science and Mathematics in Grade Five in Zanzibar: Policy Analysis (PhD project) (completed)

In this project Jane Bakahwemama attempts to do a critical analysis of the Education and Training Policy of 2005, specifically on the changes of Language of instruction in teaching mathematics and science subjects in Grade V.

About the Project

The issue of language of instruction is a thorny one for most African countries, Tanzania in particular. Since then the government has been providing number of policies/documents concerned with LOI. These policies/documents have been usually structured with a tension between retaining the English language and promoting the use of local language in all spheres including academia. In this sense, Tanzania has two Languages of instruction whereas Kiswahili is the language of instruction in primary school education and English is the language of instruction in post primary education.

Moreover, there is a plethora of literature documenting the problem concerning LOI in Tanzania secondary schools. The major problem stated in these literatures is the lack of English competence among students and teachers. Lack of competence in English makes the teaching and learning process difficult and hence poor performance of students in their local and national examinations. If lack of English competence exists in secondary school, one can presume that English competence in primary schools is worse. However, with all the above arguments, Zanzibar reintroduced English as LOI from grade five in Mathematics and Science subjects in all government primary schools. It is my assumption that there were some forces that facilitated the formulation of a new education policy which promotes the change of LOI in teaching mathematics and science subjects in grade five.

This study will be guided with dependence and critical theories. The central argument of the dependency theory, stresses that the wealth of the center nations is a result of the poverty of the third world (Mazrui, 1980).  One of the premises of dependency theory is that center nations actively perpetuate a state of dependency by various means. This influence may be multifaceted involving education and culture among others. With particular reference to education, dependency is perpetuated through the use of European languages, specifically English in the case of Tanzania (Zanzibar). In the case of critical theory, the focus will be on evaluating and elaborating the conditions of existence in the society through illumination of form of power and oppressive social relations. Moreover, the practical level aims at making a meaningful difference to social practice through influence in such areas as policy formulation, community development and individual competency. Examining education policy in question through exposing power relations and domination is of importance. Principal question which will be guided this study is how education policy formulation is directed by external socio-economic forces in relation to what should be included in the policy. Employing critical theory it will help me to focus on process leading to the change of LOI.

Specific Objectives

The specific objectives are:

  1. To investigate the sources and information as well as the forces which prompted the policymakers to change the LOI in Mathematics and Science subjects in grade five onward.
  2. To find out if there were any serious pedagogical limitations associated with Kiswahili as LOI in teaching Mathematics and Science subjects.
  3. To investigate if teachers, parents and pupils were involved in the decision to introduce changes in the new education policy concerning with the LOI in teaching Mathematics and Science subjects.


Any changes which are introduced in the education system seek to improve the present situation. I expect that the findings from this study will be beneficial to learners, teachers, curriculum developers and Ministry of Education officials (policy makers). It will be beneficial in the sense that:

It will shed some light on what were the forces led to the change of LOI in teaching science subject and mathematics.  The main focus will be on processes that led to introduce changes specifically on LOI. Shedding light on these aspects will provide very useful information to education stakeholders to know what is going on concerned with education provision.  It may alert curriculum developer and policy makers to the needs to involve education stakeholders so as to share views in order to achieve the intended result that is bringing development to the country. It may contribute towards the goals of planning and formulating education policies that take into account the socio-cultural, linguistic and economic background of Tanzania.


This research project is within the institute of educational research in the faculty of education at the University of Oslo.  It will last for three years.


The Royal Norwegian Government under Quota Scheme Program and the Institute for Educational Research, University of Oslo


Applied research


Published Sep. 6, 2011 2:59 PM - Last modified June 24, 2015 3:14 PM


Jane Borongo Bakawehmama



  • Jane Barongo Bakahwemama
Detailed list of participants