§ 15. Miss WILKINSON
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that in British East Africa it is a crime punishable by law to teach a native child to read English without an official licence, and that the teaching of English to native children in Uganda is to be stopped except to such children whose future work, such as telegraphists, is likely to require it; and whether he has given his sanction to this policy?
§ Mr. AMERY
Under the Education Ordinance of Kenya no person may, except in special circumstances, be appointed as a teacher in any Government, assisted or private school, who does not hold a certificate of competency or a licence to teach issued or recognised by the Education Department. I am not, however, aware of any penalty attaching by law specifically to the teaching of English without a licence. In Uganda the Governor has, after much consideration, proposed that Swahili should replace the various tribal languages as the medium of instruction in elementary vernacular schools in various parts of the country, and the matter is to be discussed with him during his visit to this country. I am not aware that any proposal is under consideration to curtail existing facilities for the teaching of English to native children in Uganda.
§ Miss WILKINSON
Is it not a fact that the teaching of English to natives in these territories is definitely discouraged by the Government, and, in view of the fact that this country belongs to the British Commonwealth of Nations, 953 can the right hon. Gentleman say why they should be prevented from learning the English language?
§ Mr. AMERY
I think the hon. Member is mistaken. I do not think there is any discouragement of natives learning English There is discouragement of unqualified teachers attempting to teach anything, and there is also the question of teaching the natives in the lowest classes in the schools through their vernacular, which is much more easy for them to understand.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is the precise significance of the word "specifically" in the answer to the original question? What modification does that imply?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a knowledge of English is the best protection these natives can have against exploitation, and will he see that there is no encouragement in this apparent direction of keeping the natives ignorant of the English language?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is this the new Imperialism, to discourage the tongue of Shakespeare and Milton?