The responsibility of teacher education in Namibia after independence was shared between the Colleges of Education and the University of Namibia (UNAM), with the Colleges of Education focusing on junior primary and junior secondary teachers, and UNAM on senior secondary teachers. In 2010, the Colleges of Education merged with UNAM, which meant that UNAM had to adapt its methodologies in order to prepare teachers for all the school phases. In 2011, UNAM introduced a teacher education programme (pre-primary and lower primary) to prepare teachers to teach in a Namibian language as the medium of instruction and thus successfully effect the transition from instruction in a Namibian language to instruction in English, in line with the goals of the Language Policy for Schools (1992). Therefore, for learners to acquire basic literacy skills, teachers should be skilled and competent in teaching in the mother tongue.
Few studies have been conducted on teacher preparation for mother tongue literacy in developing countries such as Namibia. This study examines how the initial teacher education programme prepares student teachers to teach all four mother tongue language skills in Namibia. Data were collected through classroom observations, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis. The main findings include that the preparation of teachers was constrained by the lack of an institutional policy on African languages as a medium of instruction; the lack of prescribed books in African languages; and the limited use of a sociocultural approach in learning literacy. This study responds to the gap in mother tongue literacy teacher preparation by researching all the language skills teachers require. Moreover, it contributes to knowledge on how student teachers are prepared to teach mother tongue literacy in Namibia from a sociocultural approach. The study argues that teachers should have sufficient knowledge of the language used as a medium in schools and gives insight on the way student teachers practise mother tongue literacy in schools.