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Language, Education, and Public Policy in Eritrea

I first read this paper a few years ago, but I think it’s worth a re-read because found it to be very informative. It came out in April of 2003 in the African Studies Review, here is the abstract:

After an Eritrea nationalist movement gained Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia in 1991, the newly formed government introduced a national educational policy based on the use of mother languages as the medium of instruction in all public schools. The stated purpose of the policy was to foster national unity, identity, and development while respecting cultural diversity. Nine different languages are spoken in Eritrea, among a population that consists equally of Christians and Muslims. The government has shown considerable flexibility in applying its language policy, particularly in its response to resistance from some predominantly Muslim segments of the population. Yet the implementation of the educational policy shows that three languages-English, Arabic, and Tigrinya-have come to dominate the majority of schools in Eritrea. This article examines how the state carried out its language policy from 1991 to 1997 and explores the problems it confronted in implementing the policy.

The paper is 20 pages, but well worth the time reading it. The author did a good job highlighting the problems encountered in Eritrea’s official language policy; hopefully work like this can help the country find a comfortable solution to providing public education.

The paper: Language, Education, and Public Policy in Eritrea

The author: Tekle M. Woldemikael is an associate professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Redlands, Redlands, California. He is the author of Becoming Black American: Haitians and American Institutions (AMS, 1989). He has published a number of articles on ethnicity and nationalism in Eritrea and on Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees in the United States.

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March 5, 2008  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Eritrea, Journal articles, language

One Response

  1. Qeyḥ bāḥrī » Linguistic diversity; good thing… or the cause of African poverty!! - July 26, 2010

    […] will also use this opportunity to link to two posts about 1. language instruction in Eritrea; and 2. a UNESCO report (June 2010) on why and how Africa should invest in African languages and […]