Antwerp School of Education

Cephas Maalila Malimba

Language variations in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Role of Indigenous Languages

Zaterdag 8 Mei 2021 - 9u-10u

Exclusief voor studenten en personeelsleden van de Academische Lerarenopleiding van de UAntwerpen


The main purpose of this paper  is to discuss and appreciate the multi-lingualism in Sub-Sahara Africa which to a greater extent has become a global reality to a point where, even the so called mono-lingual nations in the world are no longer as thought.  Arising from this reality, most societies and nations are now working towards promoting multi-lingualism based on the premise that language is a ‘resource.’  There is therefore a strong belief that all languages, regardless of the status in society or nation contribute to the collective fund of the wisdom of the nation.  As such, all languages despite their size or whether a major or minor language must be treated as national wealth as they promote national cohesion.  It has prominently been arqued that a multi-lingual of bi-lingual person is better intergrated in society that a mono-lingual person.

Sub-Sahara Africa is regaded as the the ‘Tower of Babel’ as it has a large number of languages and language variaties spoken.  Scholars have tried to distinguish between minority and marginalised languages in Sub-Sahara Africa and other parts of the world.   According to Kashoki,  minority languages are marginalised languages that are within the boundaries of a nation whose speakers have been placed in a disadvantaged position as a result of being dominated either numerically or in other ways by more numerous or dominant segments of the national population.  The majority language on the other hand is the language of the most powerful members of the nation.  Such a language need not to be spoken by the majority of the population.  Is Sub-Sahara Africa, there exists a small multi-lingual modern oriented group which predominantly use a European or ex-colonial language and there also exists a fairly large multi-lingual group using a vernacular and an African vernacular of national or regional extension in terms of use and coverage.  The main feature of languages in Sub-Sahara Africa is attributed to the imposition and consequent of the ex-colonial languages which led to the general neglect of the indigenous languages.  These languages are generally regarded as unworthy to be used as official languages, for example, Angola and Mozambique promoted the colonial masters’ language Portuguese and regarded the indeginous language as ‘dog language.’  İt was therefore a fact that the philosophy of a particular colonial power largely affected the development of African languages in each particular country.  For example, the British emphasised the indirect rule and involved local traditional leaders in their administration.  Therefore, though latently, the indeginous language received some attention.  The French and Portuguese saw their mission in Africa as a civilization mission and emphasised the philosophy of assimilation.  They trampled on African Languages and culture and made sure that an African felt ashamed of being an African. 

The emergency of Pan-African vernacular languages in later years saw the rise of shared languages in Sub-Sahara African countries which served as lingua-franca in these countries which to date are referred to as cross-boarder or trans-boarder languages.  To this effect, there are many languages that arose such as Swahili, Zulu, etc.  İn Sub-Sahara Africa, there are many languages in each country that have brought about a number of political undertones and has in many cases lead to tribal wars and political divisions.  For example, in Rwanda, the genocide was ignited by tribe which is similar to Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethopia among other nations.  This paper will discuss in detail selected countries and the number of languages in each and how it has affected these countries and divided them politically and the role of indigenous languages.

Keywords: cross-boarder, dog languagemarginalized language, mono-lingual, multi-lingual, tower of babel, trans-boarder.

The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic towards the delivery of Open Distance Learning Programs in Zambia: The Case of Kwame Nkrumah University

Zaterdag 15 Mei 2021 - 9u-10u


The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis. Many countries have closed schools, colleges and universities. The crisis crystallizes the dilemma policymakers are facing between closing schools (reducing contact and saving lives) and keeping them open (allowing workers to work and maintaining the economy). The severe short-term disruption is felt by many families around the world: home schooling is not only a massive shock to parents’ productivity, but also to children’s social life and learning. Teaching in Zambia suddenly migrated to online and other social media platforms available, on an untested and unprecedented scale.  Kwame Nkrumah University has in the past decade delivered Open and distance learning through scheduled face-to-face contacts with learners mainly in-service teachers upgrading their qualifications.  Student were eventually subjected to virtual lessons, submission of assessments online with a lot of trial and error and uncertainty for both academic staff and students as no one was prepared.

Zambia recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case in mid-March, 2020 and as of 24th March, 2021 nearly 86, 993 additional cases have been reported out of 1, 211, 098 tests conducted across the country and a cumulative total of 1, 187 deaths. In an effort to contain the virus, the government of Zambia took preventive measures, including closing schools. This in turn disrupted learning for over 4.2 million students. To mitigate the impact of this situation and ensure students continued to learn, Kwame Nkrumah embarked on a robust staff capacity building training in information and communication technology.  However, this was without difficulty as the majority of staff had little knowledge on the use of technology in distance learning let alone the students.  Compounded by this challenge, the majority of the students come from the most rural parts of the country where internet connectivity is either poor or not available.

Most tertiary institutions like Kwame Nkrumah University were not prepared for this pandemic, however the University embarked on an infrastructural investment in ICT to cope with the challenges and effects of COVID 19.  The program aimed at promoting continuous learning for students during the stay-at-home orders, along with support for a sustainable and safe learning environment across the country and university when it would re-open. Additionally, the interventions aimed at fortifying the university’s education system to help the institution respond effectively to future crises.  Despite the intervention measures implemented by the university, many students could still not fully benefit from distance learning as many still lag behind in their learning progress due to a number of factors. Therefore, to deal with these challenges, the Directorate of Open Distance Education organised support measures to accelerate the provision of learning modules to quickly bring students up to their level and conduct remedial learning for those with specific problems. This discussion will focus in detail the overall effects brought about the coronavirus pandemic in the delivery of education at Kwame Nkrumah University.

Keywords: Covid 19, dilemma, in-service, pandemic, open distance education