Journal of Nigerian Languages and Cultures (JONLAC)





This paper looks at the contribution and uneven acknowledgements of indigenous languages and how this affects education and development processes. It addresses the successes and failures in selected countries, one in Asia and one in Africa that have chosen to use English as the Language of Instruction (LoI) in the secondary levels of education. It examines the choice of LoI for development, linking LoI to national and cultural identity, work prospects and integration into the global economy. It focuses on two countries, India and Tanzania. India has experienced rapid economic development, while Tanzania is an economically disadvantaged country. India with a multiplicity of languages uses local languages as LoI in lower levels of education and English in secondary schools and universities, though in India there is an option in most states to use a local language as LoI at upper levels. In the United Republic of Tanzania, KiSwahili is spoken by 95% of the population, yet English is taking over as a LoI of most schools in both countries. However, my research in Tanzania shows that local languages need to be valued at all levels of education in order that children will be prepared for engaging with the world in a language they understand. The use of a local LoI should be considered a right of the child and language as a Human Right. This paper will have relevance for researchers examining the synergy between language and cultural identity. It will also be relevant for frontline researchers and policy makers concerned with developing measures in Africa for resisting the processes of exclusion and marginalization impacting on the lives of so many today in the wake of globalization.


Keywords: Language of Instruction, Cultural identity, Development, Africa, Tanzania, India, Language policies, English, KiSwahili, Hindi, Local languages, Local knowledge.

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