Chapter published in:Foreign Language Education in Multilingual Classrooms
Edited by Andreas Bonnet and Peter Siemund
[Hamburg Studies on Linguistic Diversity 7] 2018
► pp. 57–75
Multilingualism and education in sub-Saharan Africa
Policies, practices and implications
The management of multilingualism has been a challenging issue around the world, in particular in post-colonial contexts whereby former colonial languages are usually associated with upward socioeconomic mobility while local languages are often linked with informal domains, thus assumed as low-status languages. This situation poses challenges to language-in-education planning, policy and practice. Among other things, education planners, teachers and parents are required to make choices between the attested relevance of first language based education and education in a second or foreign language, widely perceived as the best way to equip the students with the linguistic resources and skills that will allow them to compete in national and global markets. Despite some discursive and policy shift in sub-Saharan Africa, from a multilingualism-as-problem to multilingualism-as-resource orientation, monolingualism in education is still the norm. This chapter describes typical language constellations and assumptions in sub-Saharan Africa, discusses their implications in language-in-education policies and practices and how these policies and practices influence personal attitudes and social relations. The chapter is based on a critical examination of past and current language planning and policy processes in sub-Saharan Africa, as presented and discussed in different documents. The analytical perspective adopted in this study takes account of the fact that discursive orientations to multilingualism and actual practices are crucially shaped by historical and sociopolitical processes at local, national, regional and global levels. The main message of the chapter is that multilingualism should be viewed as a resource in education and in the wider society rather than a threat to successful education and social integration or cohesion.
Keywords: multilingualism, multilingualism-as-resource, sub-Saharan Africa, first language, second language, education
Published online: 24 October 2018
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Cited by other publications
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