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Dilemmas of language choice in education in Tanzania and Ghana

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

Published
  • Oksana Afitska
  • Yaw Ankomah
  • John Clegg
  • Patrick Kiliku
  • Lydia Osei-Amankwah
  • Casmir Rubagumya
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Publication date1/01/2013
Host publicationEducation Quality and Social Justice in the Global South: Challanges for Policy, Practice and Research
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages154-167
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780203817650
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This chapter addresses the language issue in classrooms in Ghana and Tanzania. It is premised on the belief that language and the issue of a good quality education are inseparable. It is not possible for learners to learn if they do not understand lessons; and they cannot understand lessons if they do not understand the language in which the lessons are taught. This is also the case with teachers. They cannot teach effectively if they have problems in expressing themselves in the language of instruction (LoI) (Clegg, 2005). To use Qorro’s analogy (2003), it is not possible to have electricity supply without copper wires, which act as a conduit of electricity. So, to say that you are interested in quality education without paying attention to the language in which that education is transmitted is like saying you are interested in electricity but you don’t care about the wiring system! For this reason, the issue of the language(s) used in classrooms takes centre stage in discussing the quality of education in African countries, many of which still use former colonial languages as LoI. This is not to imply that a language that is accessible to both learners and teachers is the only prerequisite of a good quality education. As contributions to this volume clearly show, there are other factors that contribute to quality in education. It would be proper to say language is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving quality education. Wolff (2006, p.50) has put it succinctly: “language is not everything in education, but without language, everything is nothing in education”.