Fighting A Losing Battle: Assessing The Impact Of Mother-Tongue Education Advocacy In A Hostile Environment
Most countries in Africa are multilingual with an average of about 40 languages per country. This has given rise to a complex state of multilingualism, with various patterns of language use (Batibo, 2005). One major challenge has been to decide on the medium of instruction that would be not only effective, but also acceptable to the relevant communities. Although UNESCO (1953) and a number of other educational organizations have persistently advocated for mother-tongue education, such advocacy has made little impact in most countries. This paper takes stock of some of the issues and arguments involved. It then shows how mother-tongue education remains an elusive goal in most African countries. The main thrust of this paper is to assess and highlight the major reasons, which have rendered mother-tongue advocacy in most African countries, a great challenge, to the extent that many countries accept mother-tongue education in spirit, but not in practice. The paper looks at some of the compromises that many countries have taken.
Keywords: mother-tongue education, multilingualism, medium of
instruction, advocacy, plurilingualism