The Use of Silozi as Language of Initial Literacy Instruction in Multilingual Pre-Primary Classrooms of Zambezi Region: Challenges and Way Forward

  • Begani Ziambo Mashinja The University of Zambia
Keywords: Initial literacy, Epistemic access, Multilingualism, Translanguaging, SiLozi


The Namibia Language Policy stipulates that in the junior primary (Pre-Primary, Grades 1-3), the language of instruction is the mother tongue or the predominant local language. However, Zambezi Region of Namibia is multilingual yet SiLozi is the sole language of initial literacy based on the assumption that it is the predominant language. A number of studies argue that a monolingual language practice creates challenges for both the teacher and learners in heterogeneous classrooms. In view of the preceding, the purpose of the study was to establish the challenges the pre-primary teachers and learner were confronted with due to SiLozi as a sole language of initial literacy in selected pre-primary classrooms in a predominantly SiFwe speaking environment of Sibbinda Circuit of the Zambezi Region. The sample consisted of 6 pre-primary classrooms, 6 pre-primary teachers, 6 principals. The findings of the study bring out the numerous challenges which teachers and children face in providing/receiving instruction exclusively in SiLozi. One of the challenges includes lack of familiarity with the official medium of instruction which itself, has a number of pedagogical implications. As a way to bridge the language gap, the study recommends translanguaging as a pedagogical practice whose implementation and practice would engender multilingualism, counteract symbolic violence and ensure epistemic access and facilitate initial literacy development. Finally, teachers require skills of resemiotisation, semiotic remediation and multilingual pedagogical practices to cope with the challenges they face in their multilingual classrooms.