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National language and book policies

This page provides links to language and book policies in developing countries, and research on the impact of national book policies for content creators and publishers.

ADEA GBA Report on the Regional Workshop for African Book Industry Stakeholders: 22-25 January, 2018

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), through its Working Group on Books and Learning Materials (WGBLM), teamed up with the Global Book Alliance (GBA) to dialogue with African book industry stakeholders about publishing and use of materials in mother-tongue languages, and to come up with a way forward. The dialogue focused on how to ensure sustainable book provision for children in lower primary schools by improving the creation, production, access, distribution and use of books in local languages.

Seventy key stakeholders in the African book publishing industry, representing eleven Francophone, ten Anglophone, one Lusophone country, as well as twelve representatives of development partners, held a high-level technical meeting to: (i) present the GBA’s mission, vision, objectives, strategies; (ii) strengthen local coordination of major stakeholders (writers, publishers, booksellers, and reading specialists); and (iii) improve local coordination and policy dialogue between governments and book professionals in implementing book provision.

A Landscape Review of Language and Literacy Research in African Contexts

This report addresses key issues based on recent research on language and literacy in the African context, including teacher education, and outlines key findings and recommendations for research and practice based on the review of the literature. The dramatic increase in enrollment of students in the last few decades has led to greater demand for teachers and attention to quality of education, as expressed in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and later in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, number 4) in 2015. Quality education is also a priority in the Global Affairs Canada’s new policy on international assistance. Twenty-first-century skills, such as active learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, independent thinking, and information and communication technology (ICT) skills, are key to quality education. Although these skills are often mentioned in the policy documents, there is need for more research on how these can be implemented in practice.

The report is divided into Part I and Part II. Part I reviews focal areas of research and is based on academic articles and reports. Part II presents case studies of policies and teacher education, with a focus on 21st century skills, from six countries associated with CODE’s work in Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. These case studies provide insight into the key issues discussed in Part I of the report.

School Language Policy, Research and Practice in Malawi

Malawi has over 16 local languages. However, not all these languages are used as school languages in the education system. The illiteracy rate in Malawi is one of the highest in Southern Africa at 58% (UNICEF: 1993). This paper discusses Malawi's school language policy. It also discusses the manner in which this policy has been implemented and some of the findings on the current school language policy that were obtained from the research which IEQlMalawi carried out in 1999 in 65 schools in Mangochi and Balaka districts of the Southern Malawi.

The Language Policy, Cultural Rights and the Law in Botswana

For many years, linguists, educators and other academics have been calling upon the government of Botswana to develop a language policy which will recognize and empower all the ethnic groups represented in the country. It was little known that a colonial language policy was embedded within the Chieftainship Act of 1933, which recognizes the Tswana-speaking ethnic groups as the only tribes, with sovereignty over land, and only they have the right to designate government-recognized chiefs who can be admitted in the House of Chiefs and consulted on issues of importance. This policy was conducive to linguistic and cultural assimilation of other diverse groups into Tswanadom. The arrangement was meant to build a united and proud nation with one language, one culture and one flag. As a result of the statutory recognition of the Tswana-speaking groups, Setswana is the only local language that is used in national life and English as the official language. This paper presents the language policy in Botswana within this legal framework, the impact of the policy on linguistic and cultural rights and the long-standing agitation of the unrecognized groups for such rights. Agitation strategies include parliamentary motions, formation of linguistic associations, litigations and the engagement of United Nations procedures. While there may be no new and progressive language policy written in the near future, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel in opening up to the use of other languages and cultures in education and other social domains.

Educational Textbook Procurement in Developing Countries: How to get the best textbooks and create a national book culture

Every citizen has the right to education and culture. Their books must reflect their values and culture and must be relevant to their living circumstances. Only skilled local authors can address such needs. And only a publishing industry based on a multitude of local, autonomous, entrepreneurial publishers can develop the content that gives a nation a distinctive voice, to preserve and develop its own national identity.

Educational publishing is a key sector. Around the world, a healthy, vibrant and dynamic local publishing industry is unthinkable without an equally healthy, vibrant and dynamic educational publishing sector. Its health forms the economic basis for publishing as a whole. Throughout the developing world, local publishing is often threatened by misguided policies.

Language Education Policy (LEP) by World Regions

This page provides information on Language Education Policies for numerous countries.

Language policy in education and the role of English in India: From library language to language of empowerment

This chapter explores language policy-making processes in the Indian context, implementation issues and the place and role of English in school education. Language in education policy derives from the Indian Constitution which guarantees linguistic rights to all citizens; most importantly, members of minority groups (both religious and linguistic) are granted a special right to be educated in their mother tongue. Despite this consensus, there have been numerous political and educational controversies regarding implementation of these constitutional provisions.

The national language policy for school education, the three-language formula recommended by the National Commission on Education 1964–1966, was incorporated into the national education policies of 1968 and 1986. Accommodating at least three-languages in school education has been seen as a convenient strategy, but concerns have also been expressed from various quarters about its ‘unsatisfactory’ implementation.

Language Education in Multilingual India

Given the complicated and dynamic language situation, the role of language in Indian education has been at the centre of both debate and controversy. The central issue in the last hundred and fifty years has been the medium of instruction. There is evidence to show that before the British rule there was a vigorous system of indigenous education with provision for both sectarian and secular education. However, learning of an elite standard language was always a part of the Indian education system. Before the British, the language of power was Persian, and before that is was Sanskrit. The British debated the issue for many years before deciding in favour of English as the medium of instruction in Indian schools, which accorded prestige to the English language. Even during the British rule, the controversy centred round the question of education through the Indian languages versus English. The entire question of which language was to be the language of instruction at the school level was naturally and intricately linked to the freedom struggle and national identity. The language issue took on a more serious connotation as it became linked to the question of identifying a national language for independent India.

India Language Education Policy

Every citizen has the right to education and culture. Their books must reflect their values and culture and must be relevant to their living circumstances. Only skilled local authors can address such needs. And only a publishing industry based on a multitude of local, autonomous, entrepreneurial publishers can develop the content that gives a nation a distinctive voice, to preserve and develop its own national identity.

Educational publishing is a key sector. Around the world, a healthy, vibrant and dynamic local publishing industry is unthinkable without an equally healthy, vibrant and dynamic educational publishing sector. Its health forms the economic basis for publishing as a whole. Throughout the developing world, local publishing is often threatened by misguided policies.

Basic Education Curriculum Framework (Kenya)

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KIDC) developed the Basic Education Curriculum Framework in 2016, with a vision to enable every Kenyan to become an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen. 

Kenya is a multi-ethnic community where people speak various languages and dialects. The Constitution of Kenya, Chapter 2, Article 7 (3) commits the Government to promote and protect the diversity of languages of the people of Kenya and promote the development and use of the indigenous languages. These languages and dialects communicate valuable cultural values and norms, and indigenous language activities will be carried out in the language of the catchment area. This will enhance the acquisition of language and relevant vocabulary as well as the acquisition of foundational skills and knowledge in speaking, reading and writing in indigenous languages. 

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