Accepted paper:

Challenges to development of an African education system: the case of Uganda's language policy


Mathias Bwanika Mulumba (Makerere University)

Paper short abstract:

African language policies seem to promote use of indigenous languages, although there seems to be a missing link between the policies and the actual practice in the classroom situation hence affecting learners' acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Paper long abstract:

Africa is stuck with the western education system left behind by its colonial masters; where the colonial language is still the major medium of instruction in classroom. Learners grapple with acquiring the medium of instruction in addition to learning the subject matter during the teaching -learning process. But, the language policies and other legal frameworks of African countries seem to promote not only the use of indigenous languages as media of instruction but also as subject areas in school in order to help learners acquire knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for participating in state development. There seems to be a missing link between the language policies in Africa and the actual practice in the classroom situation. Using a case of Uganda, the study examined the position of indigenous languages in the language policy of 1992. It also investigated challenges of implementing the language policy in the School system, and their implication to the attainment of knowledge and skills. Employing a case study that involved ethnographic modes of inquiry, the researcher found out that the indigenous languages enjoy an important position in the education system. However, it was also revealed that the policy decision to instruct urban children in English and rural ones' in local languages had led the former to abandon the policy and instruct learners in English. This had far reaching effects on learners' knowledge and skills obtained from school. The researcher recommended equitable implementation of the language policy regardless of the schools' geographical location.

panel Lang01
Connections and disruptions: a sociolinguistic perspective