Language and Literacy Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards a Bilingual Language Education Policy in Angola
Manuel, Nicolau Nkiawete
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Recently the Angolan government piloted a new language policy that will introduce six African languages as media of instruction into the school system from first through third grade. Using Fairclough's critical discourse analysis three dimensional frameworks, Foucault's discourse insights and the theoretical tools developed in linguistic anthropology, this study conducted a discursive and linguistic analysis of Angolan language policy discourses. The study conceptualized language education policy as involving struggles, negotiations, and compromise-- language policy as a hegemonic, symbolic, and discursive act that is socially, historically, and politically situated and involving various actors and social agents. The purpose of this study was to question and problematize the above mentioned language policy and examine the attitudes, beliefs, ideologies, and discursive practices of a variety of social agents including parents, students, teachers, administrators and policy-makers; and the socio-historical conditions that have shaped this policy. Another purpose of this study was, to use the findings and the insights from best practices in second language and bilingual pedagogy to propose alternative avenues for the ongoing language education reform. The findings demonstrated that the various cultural and discursive practices are dynamic, locally, and contextually situated. This dynamic created tension between the local and the global discursive practices, specifically between the discourses of national unity, English as a global language and African indigenous languages as the languages of cultural identity and heritage. The findings also revealed that the choices of language of instruction and use are embedded in economic, political, and ideological interests of the various social groups. Parents, teachers, linguists, and policy-makers alike, recognized the advantages of bilingual education. However, entrenched negative attitudes, the high status, and the prestige attached to Portuguese and English pose additional challenges for the promotion of African languages in education and social life. The findings also suggested the need to challenge positions of power and privilege that are reinforced by the use of disciplinary knowledge in the domains of language teaching and learning. In conclusion, the findings suggested that top-down and bottom up processes should work in tandem to promote an inclusive language policy towards, bilingualism, and linguistic diversity.
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