LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN AFRICA - THE MOST IMPORTANT AND LEAST APPRECIATED ISSUE
Keywords:language of instruction, mulitilingualism, quality of education, learning outcomes, donor policies, increasing inequalities
This article deals with the language of instruction, also called ‘the least appreciated of all the major educational problems’. It shows how little attention is paid to this issue in donor policies as well as in the recent ‘World Bank education strategy 2020’. Donors to education in Africa seem to focus on learning outcomes but they do not see that in order to improve learning outcomes, a key focus must be on support to the development and use of the most appropriate language of instruction and literacy from the learner’s perspective. The article discusses the ‘quality’ of education and the point is made that quality of education cannot be separated from the important question of which language should be used for education. Retaining the former colonial languages as languages of instruction may serve a small elite but works to the disadvantage of the majority of Africans. The language of instruction is a powerful mechanism for social stratification, increasing inequalities. Towards the end of the article the myth of the many languages in Africa is discussed.
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