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Accepted Paper:

‘Education for All’ and Indigenous languages: What can systems of education achieve?  
Bert van Pinxteren (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

What does the SDG4 ‘Education for All’ goal mean for medium of instruction (MoI)? I argue that increased enrolment must lead to indigenous languages as MoI. I attack the fiction that African educational systems can expand indefinitely using colonial languages as MoI.

Paper long abstract:

The SDG 4 goal of ‘Education for All’ represents a radical break away from colonial educational systems, which were essentially aimed at providing substandard education for a large group and higher education only for a small minority. What does such a radical break mean for medium of instruction (MoI)? This paper will argue that for as long as higher education remains aimed at a small elite, MoI does not matter: there will always be enough bright youngsters able to profit from such education. However, for educational systems aimed at the masses, MoI does matter: as enrolment increases, so will the demands increase for a MoI that is easily accessible for students – therefore, demands for indigenous languages as Medium of Instruction is bound to increase. This is especially true for the area of Technical and Vocational Training and Education, but also for higher education.

This relationship between enrolment and MoI will be investigated using data from educational systems in different parts of the world. The paper exposes the fiction that African educational systems will be able to expand indefinitely using former colonial languages as MoI. It will show that as enrolment increases, a MoI close to what students already know becomes imperative. This is also practically possible.

Panel Lang04
Indigenous languages and disentanglement with African futures
  Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -