Why and How Africa Should Invest in AfricanLanguagesand MultilingualEducation: An Evidence- and Practice-Based Policy Advocacy Brief

In the 21st century, learning is at the heart of the modern world’s endeavours to become a knowledge economy. It is the key to empowering individuals to be today’s world producers and consumers of knowledge. It is essential in enabling people to become critical citizens and to attain self-fulfilment. It is a driver of economic competitiveness as well as community development. Good quality learning is not only about becoming more competent, polyvalent and productive but also about nurturing diversity and being well rooted in one’s culture and traditions, while adapting to the unknown and being able to live with others. This kind of learning entails developing curiosity and responsible risk-taking. This advocacy brief seeks to show the pivotal role oflanguagesin achieving such learning. It aims in particular to dispel prejudice and confusion about Africanlanguages, and exposes the often hidden attempt to discredit them as being an obstacle to learning. It draws on research and practice to argue what kind oflanguagepolicy ineducationwould be most appropriate forAfrica. This advocacy brief is a short collection of what we know and what research tells us about the use of Africanlanguagesineducation. It is a collection and review of relevant evidence and arguments to inform African decision-makers in their difficult policy choices when it comes to the use of African languages in education and governance. Their choice is made more complex still by the fact that two key stakeholders–namely parents and teachers–have an ill-informed understanding of the issue and tend to oppose it, arguing the need to preserve and protect the supreme interest of the children.Languagepolicy is a political decision, and political decisions should always serve the best and highest interests of the community or nation. In this regard, the advocacy brief also addresses bilateral and multilateral agencies in order to inform their decision-making when working with African governments and alert them to the consequences of their actions and poor advice. This guide will explore research evidence that will spell out the strong prejudices, confusions and threats surrounding the language question. It hopes to show that there is a real intrinsic value and worth to mother-tongue-based education beyond the emotional attachment and loyalty to identity, culture and values.

Ouane, Adama; Glanz, Christine
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. 73 pp.