Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Karla Giuliano Sarr


Burundi is a small country in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Burundian language policy dictates that four languages, Kirundi, French, English, and Kiswahili, must be taught starting in the second trimester of grade one. The language policy decision is not an obvious one since the country is linguistically homogenous, meaning that almost the entire population speaks Kirundi as their first language. Primary school teachers in the public education system typically receive training in a vocational setting that may not fully prepare them for the complex multilingual classroom environment they are expected to cultivate. The aim of this small-scale mixed-methods study is to better understand the perspectives and lived experiences of Burundian primary school teachers in relation to the language policy. To do so, this study utilizes surveys, focus groups, and interview methods to sample across eight different primary schools in the province of Bururi. A total of three school principals and 50 teachers participated in the study. Findings indicate that, with the exception of Kirundi, sampled teachers lack confidence in teaching the languages that are a required portion of the curriculum. Data highlight issues within the pre-service and in-service training for teachers including issues with corruption and funding by the government. The study emphasizes that participants struggle to meet their basic needs as a result of poor salaries and the threat of violence due to the political instability that exists in Burundi. Findings showcase that there is a difference between policy and practice as teachers tend to use Kirundi throughout the curriculum despite policy recommendations to help mitigate the issue of students’ weak linguistic abilities. The present study represents a contribution to the areas of language issues and teacher motivation in education by providing a strong focus on the neglected perspective of the teacher. The study serves to highlight their opinions on how these issues could and perhaps should be addressed.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Education Economics | Language and Literacy Education | Other Education | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


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