“Have policy makers erred?” Implications of mother tongue education for preprimary schooling in Uganda

  • Medadi Erisa Ssentanda Stellenbosch University
Keywords: language policy, initial literacy, mother tongue education, English, preprimary (ECD), Uganda


The Uganda language-in-education policy is silent about pre-primary schooling. This level of education is largely in the hands of private individuals who, because of wide-spread misconceptions about learning and acquiring English in Uganda (as in many other African countries), instruct pre-primary school learners in English. This article demonstrates how this omission in language-in-education policy is creating competition between rural government and private schools regarding the teaching of English and the development of initial literacy. The absence of an official language policy for pre-primary schooling has also dichotomised the implementation of mother tongue education in rural areas. The policy allows rural primary schools to use mother tongue as language of learning and teaching in the first three school grades. However, whereas private schools instruct through English only, government schools to a large extent adhere to the policy, albeit with undesirable consequences. The practical implications of lack of a language-in-education policy for and minimal government involvement in pre-primary schooling are discussed in this article.


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Author Biography

Medadi Erisa Ssentanda, Stellenbosch University
General LinguisticsPhD Student