Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A few quick items. In the last few weeks I've done some updates to several pages on the Bisharat! site (link on left), notably the links pages and the "basic documents." For the latter I am particularly indebted to CELHTO here in Niamey for the loan of some books and reports that I'm trying to find free time to scan - already done material for Abidjan '64, Ibadan '64 (tous les deux en français), Bamako '79, and la version française de Harare '97 (previously had only the English).

A few correspondence items relating to language in Africa, esp. of education. For instance just recently on the "Africa-oped"* list at:

I also discovered the "Mwananchi"** list - both it and the abovementioned have a staggering amount of traffic BTW - and posted something that was reposted on Africa-oped where you can see it in the latter's open archives:

a response on the topic of culture & development - here I veer off onto the question of language again

Mwananchi, so I discover, has a lot of input by George Ayittey, an American Univ. professor who has published on aspects of African development. His reply to the above I don't have permission to repost here - and the group is closed- archive - but here is my response to him today (in the socially equalizing etiquette of such groups, one is pretty much automatically on a first name basis):

Thank you, George. I'd be interested what you (and others) think of the work of Kwesi Prah and CASAS - http://www.casas.co.za - on standardization of regional & transborder languages for intercommunication in Africa. Certainly sets out to challenge some of the conventional wisdom.

The multilingual nature of African societies is a challenge but many argue a resource as well. The trick I guess is to find solutions to have the best of all possibilities, and Africa ends up (for reasons such as you indicate) with the worst instead.

I've been very interested in this regard to go over a number of documents on language policy in Africa from the last 40 years - which I find very thought provoking indeed. It seems that many good and realistic proposals for African languages have been made but never really implemented. See http://www.bisharat.net/Documents

Of course English, French & Portuguese have roles that are important, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but I do agree with those in other world regions that use of first languages in formal education (in proven bilingual approaches) has a lot of advantages for learning and personal development.

Anyway, that's one foreigner's take on it. Thanks again & in advance...


* http://groups.yahoo.com/group/africa-oped/
** http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mwananchi/

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