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Department of Science and Mathematics Education - Catching them young: Science and Technology at Primary School Workshop

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Department of Science and Mathematics Education - Catching them young: Science and Technology at Primary School Workshop

Date: Friday 6 July, 2018

Venue: Faculty of Education Lecture Theatre

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PAPER ABSTRACTS

Alignment Gaps in Science and Technology Curricula: Teacher Education vs Primary Education

More Panganayi, Madziwa Teachers’ College

Globally, it has been difficult to synchronize curricula in cases where two separate ministries of education and higher education exist.  Successful curriculum implementation is dependent on alignment of teacher education curriculum with primary and secondary school curriculum.  The purpose of this paper is to explore the skills needed by post O’ Level pre-service student teachers so that they can fully service the primary school science and technology curriculum (PSSCTC).  It also examines whether the primary teacher education science and technology curriculum (PTESTC) really addresses the acquisition of the needed skills.  Instead of having a synchronized approach, the PTESTC is diverging from PSSCTC. Through juxtaposing PTESTC against PSSCTC, this paper contributes towards addressing the alignment gaps that exist.  This paper argues that PTESTC should have aligned objectives to primary school science and technology syllabus.  It also revealed that the teaching approaches used in PTESTC do not add value to primary school science and technology teaching.  Analysis of PTESTC also revealed that no science and technology content is taught and students do not develop positive attitudes and responsible behavior towards community and environment. The whole course outline focuses on methodology of teaching Science and Technology and not content.  It is recommended that there must be synchronization of PTESTC with PSSCTC and much emphasis should be placed on content so that its mastery by the teachers is standardized.

Key terms: Educational alignment, science and technology curriculum, teaching approaches

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An Integrated Approach to Teaching of Design and Technology at Primary School

Emily Motsi, Mavis Rufaro Chikoore, Henry Matienga and John Chakamba

Department of Technical Education, University of Zimbabwe

Design and technology is a new dimension that has been incorporated into the grade 3-7 Primary School Science and Technology syllabus aimed at inculcating among learners key life skills competencies and various desirable characteristics.  It comes with a set of expected outcomes where through Science and Technology, learners become innovative, adaptable, critical thinkers and creative problem solvers.  Under the new teaching and learning dispensation, pupils are therefore expected to be effective participants, or collaborative team players.  This is to be achieved through a learner centred, participatory, collaborative, integrated, and multisensory, problem identification and problem solving approaches.  Teachers are expected to be alert, well prepared and conscientised on how to manage learning in order to prepare learners with life skills required in the 21st century.  This paper will therefore explore how primary school teachers can use a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching through integrating different subject areas (mathematics, science, art, textiles, building, wood, metal and food technology) thus providing learners with opportunities to combine their scientific, logic, design, technical and artistic knowledge in a manner that enables them to understand and interact meaningfully with their natural world.  It is hoped that the paper will be useful to all primary school teachers teaching Design and Technology as well as their learners since it will demystify the field and provide an appropriate guide for its teaching and learning.

Key terms: Design and technology, life skills, multi-disciplinary approach,

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Areas of Concern to Primary School Teachers on the Implementation of the Mathematics and Science Infant and Science and Technology Junior School Syllabi: Preliminary Findings of a Needs Assessment Study

Oswell Namasasu, Department of Science and Mathematics Education

Rosewitha Gatsi, Department of Teacher Education

University of Zimbabwe

This paper presents the preliminary findings of an on-going needs assessment study to identify areas of concern to primary school teachers on the implementation of mathematics, science and technology syllabi in the updated curriculum.  The study uses a mixed method approach based on face-to-face interviews, focus group discussions and questionnaires.  It covers purposively selected teachers from primary schools representing various school types such as group A (urban low density), group B (urban high density), trust (private), district council (rural), farm (rural), mine and mission schools.  It also includes in-service teachers enrolled on part-time B.Ed. (Primary and Early Childhood) degree programmes offered by the Department of Teacher Education.  The purpose of the study is two-fold.  First, it seeks to provide areas of focus for training workshops for practicing teachers which, if funding is obtained, can be conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.  Second, it seeks to get student input in restructuring the existing B.Ed.  (Primary and Early Childhood) degree programmes so that they offer Science and Technology courses at infant and junior school.  The second aspect is the focus of this presentation.   Our B.Ed. students who are themselves practicing teachers in different regions of the country are participants in this study. Preliminary findings suggest that they find the following aims and objectives problematic: enhancing scientific and technological designs through the use of ICT; collecting and recording relevant data and information through scientific research; and designing, modifying technological devices using local and other materials.  They find the following topics difficult to teach: relationships in science and mathematics, materials and structure, electricity and electronics, forces and magnets, design and technology, weather and climate, landforms and maps, and sustainable resource management.  Project work and science exhibitions are rarely used as teaching methods at their schools.  The reasons given for this state of affairs include lack of resources and skills.  It is becoming apparent that they were not adequately prepared for many of the aims, objectives, topics and teaching methods of the new curriculum during their diploma studies.  This suggests a strong need for resources, in-service training workshops for practicing teachers and curriculum reform in teachers’ colleges and universities.

Key words:  needs assessment, in-service teachers, practicing teachers, B.Ed. (Primary and Early Childhood) degree programmes

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Bridging Primary School Mathematics and Secondary School Mathematics through Ethnomathematics

Turugari Munamato and Tamirepi Farirai,

Workers’ University College

The Zimbabwe Primary School Mathematics Syllabus has the “space and shape” as one of its four strands.  The aim of the “space and shape” strand is to provide an opportunity for the primary school learners to gain knowledge of Geometry. The gained knowledge   enables the learners to recognise shapes in their environment.  However, in the teaching of Mathematics in primary school in Zimbabwe, the teaching of shapes does not extend to the teaching of transformation of shapes.  The transformation of shapes is a phenomenon which the learners observe in their daily lives. Traditionally the teaching of transformation of shapes is reserved for secondary school mathematics as if the concepts in transformation of shapes are too abstract to an extent that the primary school learners may not grasp these concepts.  Failure in mathematics in secondary school mathematics may be caused by the fact that such topics will be alien to the learners. This paper seeks to address the need to break the tradition of reserving such topics for secondary school mathematics.  The paper advocates to break the tradition in which some topics in mathematics are reserved for Secondary School Mathematics when in fact primary school learners can be introduced to them  ethno mathematically.  The paper explores ways in which ethnomathematics can be employed in the primary school for teaching concepts of transformation of shapes such as reflection, translation, rotation and enlargement so as to make mathematics curriculum continuous from primary school to secondary school.  The paper argues that primary school learners can solve transformation problems involving translation, rotation and enlargement when they are taught using games and the learners’ out of school mathematical practices. 

Key terms: Ethnomathematics, Transformation

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Deconstructive-Reconstructive Analysis of the Zimbabwe Primary School Mathematics, Science and Technology Curriculum: A Paradigmatic Recourse

Onias Mutovosi

Mkoba Teachers’ College

The Zimbabwe Primary Science curriculum has gone through several review milestones.  With the promulgation of the ZimAsset national economic blueprint, a number of paradigms influenced an en-masse national curriculum review among which the Mathematics and Environmental Science syllabi were reviewed.  However, the updated curriculum appears to have oversights that may need a deconstructive – reconstructive analysis in light of a STEM economy.  This qualitative study examined the feasibility of an enhancement of the curriculum in the light of setting a firm STEM foundation.  The case study design was used to generate data from a sample of 16 participants inclusive of 12 primary school teachers from both infant and junior classes from 3 urban schools and 4 primary teachers college lecturers for Mathematics, and Science and Technology. Questionnaires and interviews are the instruments administered to purposively and conveniently sampled participants.  Research findings revealed that the current syllabi did not focus at laying a firm STEM foundation.  Time allocation and bunching of Mathematics and Science into one learning area for infants up to Grade 2 has more challenges than attainments.  The junior syllabus’ depth and breadth posed content challenge to teachers who trained without passes in ‘O’ Level Science.  The findings inform curriculum planners and teacher development institutions of the gaps and challenges that may need redress in a bid to enhance quality education for sustainable development.  The researcher thus recommends de-bunching of the junior syllabus and conducting workshops for knowledge enhancement among junior class teachers. 

Key terms: Primary curriculum; Mathematics syllabus; Science and Technology

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ICT Tools and Primary School Mathematics Pedagogy: Troubling the Possibilities

Alfred Mutanga

Department of Computer Science, University of Zimbabwe

The research studies in mathematics education that involved cognitive apprenticeship are mainly face-to-face and the majority do not include undergraduate mathematics courses for primary school teachers.  Most of the researchers in mathematics education only specify the theories of learning or the theoretical approach behind the design, learning facilitation and inclusion of technological tools in their teaching strategy.  The process of the analysis and selection of the computing tools used in their research is in some cases not tied with pedagogical theoretical approaches.  This paper argues that analysing and selecting computing tools for teaching mathematics concepts using a theoretical framework make these tools to be viewed as pedagogy and not merely technological innovations.  A supportive theoretical framework is necessary to help in the selection, design and analysis of the ICT tools for the teaching of basic mathematical concepts, especially at primary school level.  The analysis, selection and design of the strategic integration of ICT tools in mathematics education for this research is based on Lorillard’s Conversational Framework

Key words: ICT tools, mathematics pedagogy, technological innovations

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Implementing the Project-Based Approach within the Delivery of Science and Technology Education: Burdens and Benefits

Rosewitha Mbiriyakura and Tinashe Sibanda

Maranatha Junior School 

The teaching and learning process in the 21st Century is presenting demands that require a paradigm shift from the traditional approaches within the education system right from kindergarten through to infants and junior school education.  The trajectory of primary and secondary education in Zimbabwe has experienced a transition from a traditional to a new education delivery approach following the introduction of the new primary and secondary education curriculum (2015-2022).  This paper argues that the unfolding digital era presents a huge potential for enhancing the learner’s capacity for innovation and creativity in applying classroom-based theoretical material presented by the teacher.  Focusing on the project-based dimension of delivery of science and technology education, it evaluates its potential for transitioning learners from the traditional learning orientation of ‘acquiring knowledge’ from the teacher, towards ‘construction of knowledge’ by the learner through a computer-assisted, internet-based project approach to learning.  The paper further analyses the pros and cons and practical experiences of implementing the project-based approach to learning from a practitioner’s perspective.  The paper concludes that there is a huge possibility for variations of outcomes which may be explained by the varying contextual variables obtaining in different learning environments.   

Key words: innovation and creativity, project-based approach, practitioner’s perspective

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Locating the Foundations of Science Technology in the Zimbabwean Curriculum: Implications on the implementation of Curriculum Framework 2015-2022

Peter Kwaira, Department of Technical Education, University of Zimbabwe

This paper is based on one of those studies conducted between 2016 and 2017, following adoption of the updated curriculum (The Zimbabwe Curriculum Blueprint/Framework 2015–2022).  In this case, the particular study in question was designed to establish the actual foundations of Science and Technology (S&T) in the Zimbabwean Curriculum. Besides this study being prompted by advent of the updated curriculum, it was also strongly motivated by the recent policy drive towards the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects across the curriculum, with particular emphasis on secondary school levels.  Yes, according to the theme of this workshop, the idea is to catch learners young by starting the teaching and learning of S&T from primary school.  While this is meaningful, the study on which this paper is based suggests sinking the foundation further and going even deeper into the roots of S&T Education.  This is where the important role that could be played by Early Childhood Development (ECD), in conjunction with the home comes in!  Having said that, the task was then to come up with ideas on how educationists (practitioners) at various levels could be assisted in identifying and developing mechanisms for the success of such a paradigm shift, in terms of approach to S&T Education.  The study involved the document/content analysis of various syllabi; from ECD up to tertiary.  However, given the thrust and focus of the study, the infant and junior school syllabi remained the core of analysis, upon which all the other syllabi could be brought into comparison.  Key findings showed the power and mystery of PLAY as an approach that could provide an important thread linking the teaching/learning of S&T from ECD to the rest of all the other levels in Zimbabwean curriculum.

Key terms: Paradigm shift, science and technology education, play, early childhood development

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Re-Situating the Narrative within Unhu/Ubuntu Discourse: A Deconstructive Engagement

Ngoni Makuvaza

Department of Educational Foundations, University of Zimbabwe

The buzz word of this workshop is ‘catch them young’.  We find this buzz word quite apropos for any innovation at both micro and macro-levels. This is particularly so for the current MoPSE (2014-2022) updated curriculum which is in its initial stages of implementation.  This claim is based on the pedagogical axiom that; if any innovations to any curriculum are to be successful and sustainable it is proper that they should start with the young.  Instructively, we argue that success of the current thrust of the updated curriculum on science and technology rests on its implementation on the young.  Notwithstanding that the term young is as relative as it is problematic, in this paper we think the successful implementation of this thrust should start with the ECD.  Essentially, we posit that the successful and sustainable implementation and introduction of the science and technology initiative should start with the ECD age group.  However, the critical pedagogical question which begs an answer and which is the basis of this paper is; catch them young, but for what?  In other words, why introduce the ECD learners to science and technology education at such a tender age?  In interrogating this claim we present and defend the following theses namely; [a] Zimbabwe needs particular scientists and technologists and not mere scientists and technologists or ‘more of the same [b] to arrest the risk of having mere scientists and technologists, science and technology education even as it should be introduced at ECD level should be anchored on unhu/Ubuntu/vumunhu philosophy.  This paper draws insights from discourse on unhu/Ubuntu as a postcolonial moral narrative.

Key words: ECD, young, unhu/Ubuntu/vumunhu,virtues, flair, MoPSE, philosophy, axiology, deconstruct.

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Scientists or Science Historians: What do we aim to Develop?

Pardon Shoko

Madziwa Teachers’ College

Never before has our world been so complex and science knowledge so critical to making sense of it all.  This calls for a people to educate its young ones in ways that not only develop scientific knowledge, but most importantly, an understanding of the biological and physical world, and an interest in and appreciation of how science and technology affect their lives and environment.  This paper seeks to answer the question whether our science curriculum develops such a person or not.  By analysing our Primary School Science and Technology syllabi, and comparing them with the American and Japanese Elementary School Science Curricula, it has been established that our content is shallow, our methodology does not promote the development of an enquiring mind, our classrooms are not adequately equipped for practical science lessons and our teachers cannot effectively teach the subject.  It therefore concludes that our science curriculum will not produce citizens who can become scientists or who can confidently take up careers in STEM fields.  A review of the curriculum, making it more practical than the story-like field it currently is, that is supported by the provision of material resources and expert human capital is recommended.

Key words: Scientists, science historians, an enquiring mind

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Syllabus Interpretation, Teaching Methodologies and Wide Researches as Bases for Effective Teaching of Science and Technology at Junior Level in Primary Schools in Zimbabwe

Biggie Mpamhadzi

Morgenster Teachers’ College

The Science and Technology Junior syllabus has a number of new and complex concepts which need thorough analysis. This paper provides an example of concept analysis in the implementation of this syllabus using the Grade 3 topic Materials and Structures and Characteristics of Materials as the Key Concept.  It argues that the breaking down of concepts at this level has to be precise and consistent.  This enables the teacher to select the essential aspects of the concept.  The key concept does not delineate the parameters within which the teacher should be confined.  To break the key concept into appropriate sub concepts it is essential to focus on the objectives of the concept and the level of understanding of the learners and to make use of tangible scientific teaching aids which facilitate learning and develop in learners a curiosity to learn. The use of hands-on approaches in practical work can ease the teaching of the subject at junior level in Zimbabwe.

Key words: concept analysis, materials and structures, characteristics of materials, hands-on-approaches

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Tapping the Tacit Knowledge in Playfield Swings to Learn Physics: A Case Study of Childhood Reflections by Preservice Teachers

Francis Mavhunga and Israel Kibirige

Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, University of Limpopo

Children experience physical phenomena and formulate an epistemological worldview before contact with school science. School science extends thought about the same phenomena to deeper levels but does not always link with out-of-school experiences. The study explored preservice teachers’ indigenous knowledge or tacit knowledge about the playground swing and its use to teach the physics of the simple pendulum. The preservice teachers’ indigenous knowledge experiences with playground swings may be a pivot for linking their physics teaching to out-of-school experiences. A phenomenological research design was used to explore experiences of eight preservice teachers. Data were collected using focus group interviews and personal interviews and were thematically analysed. Findings show that young players become aware of relationships between variables; they are attracted to the swings for specific reasons; they connect experiences at swings with physical laws. However, pre-service teachers are not able to connect this tacit knowledge with formal science. Yet, teachers should realise that school physics explains everyday experiences which they know in their vernacular. The lack of such a link may disadvantage learners to understand ideas expressed in English, which is not their mother tongue. Thus, teachers need to link indigenous tacit knowledge with school physics in order to develop effective teaching strategies.

Keywords: Tacit knowledge, swing, pendulum, vernacular, indigenous knowledge. 

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Teacher Education: Key To Improved Primary School Mathematics

Irene Matereke, Morgenster Teachers’ College

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of student -teachers at selected Primary teacher education institutions about the adequacy of the mathematics teacher education program in preparing them to teach mathematics in primary schools. The researcher noted that performance in primary school mathematics has remained very low. On the other hand, student-teachers perform poorly in their mathematics professional studies tests which involve mainly, primary school mathematics. The research adopted the case study with mixed method approach.  The quantitative data used played a pivotal role in supporting the qualitative aspects of the research. The sample for the study involved twenty- one student teachers on teaching practice and nine in their final residential phase. Findings suggest that student- teachers at primary teacher education institutions perceive a need for teacher education mathematics course to be contextualized and aligned to primary school mathematics. The program also needs to focus on the development of subject matter content, pedagogical content and professional skills before student teachers are released for their practicum. The study provides a framework of re-conceptualizing mathematics teacher education programs and raised critical issues teacher educators need to address in order to ensure that student teachers are adequately prepared for classroom mathematics teaching.

Key words: Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), teacher education, professional studies tests, mathematics preparation program

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The Imperative of a Shift in Mathematics Teaching in Zimbabwean Schools:  A Case for Teaching through Problem Solving

Joseph Vere

Department of Science and Mathematics Education, University of Zimbabwe

Many, possibly most, mathematics educators see the need to shift from the popular, teacher centred approach to mathematics teaching in Zimbabwean schools, to a constructivist approach. The more extreme form of the former approach is characterized by rote learning of mathematics facts, rules and procedures, and their application in repetitive drill, and routine exercises. In the constructivist approach on the other hand, learners are provided with ample opportunities for exploration and constructing meaning for themselves, discovering and justifying generalizations, and solving non-routine problems. It should be quite obvious why the constructivist approach would be preferable, both in terms of providing worthwhile, enjoyable mathematics learning experiences, and also in terms of producing desirable learning outcomes. The critical thinking, adaptable workforce required in the 21st Century is likely to emerge from a constructivist, rather than from a teacher dominated mathematics classroom. Why then are most Zimbabwean mathematics teachers apparently reluctant to change their approach? Anecdotal evidence points to a variety of reasons, such as an unwillingness to abandon a teaching model perceived to be ‘effective’. Despite this, the paper makes a case for adopting of a constructivist, problem solving approach--referred to, for convenience, as TMTPS (Teaching Mathematics through Problem Solving). In making the case, the approach is defined, justified, some practical, implementation suggestions made, and the issue of possible negative reactions is addressed. Wherever appropriate, discussion is enriched by the inclusion of lessons learnt by the writer during his involvement in an ongoing TMTPS related project

Keywords: Constructivist; Teaching mathematics through problem solving; Non-routine mathematical problem solving.

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Towards a Holistic Approach in Science and Technology Instruction for the Hearing Impaired: A Challenge for Zimbabwean Primary Schools

Ester Rutoro

Morgenster Teachers’ College

For Zimbabwe to succeed in its drive towards economic recovery, Science and Technology needs to be taken at the centre stage. It is with this in mind that there has been a significant paradigm shift in the primary education sector. Science and Technology has been added as a core subject to build a firm foundation for science and technology education in secondary schools. However, the needs of a significant proportion of the primary school learner population have been ignored: learners living with hearing impairment. There is a glaring gap in the language used by these learners on Science and Technology concepts. Thus, there is a challenge as these learners are being left far behind in the new Science and Technology era. It is upon this background that this paper explores challenges faced by learners with hearing impairment and the teachers who offer instruction to these learners in implementing the Science and Technology curriculum. The research was done in Masvingo District and a sample of five schools was purposively sampled. Out of the five schools one is a special school. The aspects explored in this paper are: Science and Technology language gap, teacher competency in implementing Science and Technology curriculum to the hearing impaired, methodological considerations, resource constraints, time allocation for the implementation, and capacity of schools who have learners living with hearing impairment. This research is to a large extent grounded in the qualitative research paradigm as the researcher explored perspectives of teachers on the feasibility of effectively implementing the Science and Technology curriculum to the hearing impaired learners in Zimbabwe’s primary schools. However some quantitative analysis of test results was also done. Research methods used for data collection are the interview, document analysis, questionnaire and observations. Research assistants from the special needs school were involved in this research in order to gain an in depth perspective into the challenges of having a holistic Science and Technology instruction to hearing impaired learners. The paper was concluded by offering recommendations for a holistic approach in the teaching of Science and technology to the hearing impaired at primary school level. One major recommendation offered by this research was to explore the possibility of a Science and Technology sign language dictionary.

Key terms: Science, Technology, sign language, hearing impairment

Towards the Development of Monolingual Dictionaries for Mother Tongue Instruction in Mathematics and Science at Infant School (ECD to Grade 2): A Concept Paper

Oswell Namasasu

Department of Science and Mathematics Education, University of Zimbabwe

Emmanuel Chabata

African Languages Research Institute, University of Zimbabwe

Eventhough Ndlovu, Loveson Gopo and Rambisai Kandawasvika-Chivandikwa

Department of African Languages and Literature, University of Zimbabwe

The Monolingual Dictionary Project for Mother Tongue Instruction in Mathematics and Science at Infant School seeks to empower classroom teachers to conduct lessons and develop curriculum materials in indigenous languages.  The project will build upon the foundations laid by general bilingual dictionaries such as A Basic English Shona Dictionary (Dale, 1975) Standard Shona Dictionary (Hannan, 1984),  monolingual general dictionaries such as Duramazwi Guru reChiShona (Chimhundu, 2001) and Isichazamazwi sesiNdebele (Hadebe, 2001), bilingual specialized dictionaries such as Duramazwi Resainzi Nehumhizha  ReChirungu NeChishona (Chetsanga, 2014) and The Standard Shona – English Dictionary of Names (Kahari, 2016), and monolingual specialized dictionaries such as Duramazwi reUrapi neUtano (Mpofu, Chimhundu, Mangoya and Chabata, 2004) and Duramazwi Remimhanzi (Mheta, 2005).   Its expected outcome is the production of the first monolingual specialized dictionary that is designed to support mother tongue instruction in mathematics, technology and science to beginning primary school learners in the context of Zimbabwe’s New Curriculum Framework 2015-2022.  Both headwords and explanations will be in the mother tongue but a glossary and index in English will be provided.  The project seeks to contribute to the creation of conditions necessary for the development of indigenous languages by promoting and advancing their use in early childhood education for learners whose first language is not English.  By the end of the project, all of the country’s indigenous languages should have monolingual specialized mathematics, technology and science dictionaries for the early grades at primary school.  This way, effective learning of mathematics, science and technology can begin at an early age rather than be postponed to a time when learners are considered to have mastered sufficient English for by then some may have even lost interest in mathematics, science and technology altogether.

Key terms: mother tongue instruction, monolingual, bilingual, general dictionary, specialized dictionary, monolingual specialized dictionary

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