Language policy


Official government decisions regarding the use of language in the public domain, including courts, schools, government offices and health services.

UNESCO. 2006. Education for all: literacy for life; EFA global monitoring report, 2006. Paris: UNESCO.

Example of use

Among the great variety of language policies adopted in post-colonial Africa, three main trends stand out. First, there are those countries which opted for the status quo, avoiding any initiative that questioned the existing order. The Western language remains the language of instruction and the only official language used in government institutions and the public sector. This policy amounts to a confirmation of the colonial order. Then there are those countries which underwent slow, step-by-step change: using African languages in non-formal education and adult literacy programmes and experimenting with them in the formal education system, taking policy measures to promote African languages, opening up new, broader contexts for the use of so-called national languages – without challenging the official status of the Western language. A third category of countries have embarked on a policy of in-depth change: curtailing the official use of the Western language to the benefit of African languages, using the latter as the medium for learning in both formal and non-formal education, promoting bilingualism and multilingualism (Ndoye, 2003:4). 

Ndoye, Mamadou. 2003. « Bilingualism, language policies and educational strategies in Africa ». IIEP newsletter 21, no 3 (2003): 4.