Namibia: Impact of Language on Education Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Jun 20 13:23:12 UTC 2008

Impact of Language on Education Policy
By Chief Ankama

(Part II)

The significance of comparing the Namibian indigenous languages in
education to the study of Fillmore is hypothetically valid in some
ways, e.g.
the study discovered that the learning of English as a second language
by young children, changes the patterns of primary language use and
leads to a possible primary language loss (p. 341). Fillmore argues:
"When parents are unable to talk to their children, they cannot easily
convey to them their values, beliefs, understanding or wisdom about
how to cope with their experiences.  They cannot teach them about the
meaning of work, or about personal responsibility, or what it means to
be a moral or ethical person in a world of too many choices and too
few guideposts to follow" (p. 343).

The question is: what is so unique among indigenous Namibians to
prevent the negative effect to their languages if the control
mechanisms are not maintained? In other words, experiences of language
loss similar to the case discussed by Fillmore can happen to Namibia
as well. To sum up: the message contained in the literature consulted
in this paper, despite the fact that they are drawn from diverse
disciplines, clearly remind us to be assertive towards others, in
words, in deeds and in kind.  Eighteen years of independence for
Namibia is not very long to mould a nation that was defragmented along
ethnic, culture and language lines, but they are enough for one to
shape a clear destiny. Education would be in my opinion a starting
point, especial elementary to enforce strong kaleidoscopic, linguistic
and culture-considerate educational goals of the larger developing

1. Au, K. H. &  Kawakami, A. J.  (1994). Cultural congruence in
instruction.  In Etta Hollins, Joyce King, & Warren Hayman (Eds).
Teaching diverse populations (pp. 5-23).  Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

2. Brown, David.  (1998). Educational Policy and the Choice of
Language in Linguistically Complex South African Schools. Formative
Decision-Making by Significant Language Professionals and Governing
Bodies. Durban:  Education Policy Unit, Natal University.

3. Cummins, Jim. (1995). Empowering minority students.  In Ophelia,
Garcia & C. Baker (Eds.) (1995). Policy and practice in bilingual
education:  Extending the foundations.  Clevedon, England:
Multilingual Matters.

4. Freire, P.  (1970). The adult literacy process as cultural action
for freedom.  Harvard Educational Review, 40(2), 205-225.  Reprinted
in M. Minami & B. P. Kennedy (Eds). (1991). Language issues in
literacy and bilingual/multicultural education (pp.248-265.
Cambridge:  Harvard Educational Review.

5. Fillmore, Lily Wong.  (1991). When learning a second language means
losing the first.  Early Childhood Education Quarterly 6, 323-346.

6. Grant, Sydney R. (1996). Toward identity and community in Namibia
and the United States: A disturbing contrast. Social studies, 87, (2),

7. Henze, Rosemary C. (1992).  "How to ring a doorbell".  In Informal
Teaching and Learning:  A Study of Everyday Cognition in a Greek
Community (pp. 1-26). Mahwah, New Jersey:  Lawrence Erlbaum

 8. Mann, Charles C.  (1997). Language, Mass Communication, and
National Development:  The Role, Perceptions and Potential of
Anglo-Nigerian Pidgins in the Nigerian Mass Media

9. McDermott, R. & Herve, V.  (1995).  Culture as disability.
Anthropology & Education Quarterly 26(1), 1-19.

10. Moll, L. C. et al.  (1992).  Funds of Knowledge for Teaching:
Using a Qualitative. Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms.  Theory
into Practice 31(2), 132-141.

 11. Nekhwevha, F. (1998).  No matter how long the night, the day is
sure to come.  In George D. Spindler (Ed.). Education and cultural
process (pp.89-96).  Prospects Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

12. Neu, J.  (1995). Identity, language and conflict.  TESOL in Action
9(5), 3-24.

13. Phillipson, R. & Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1995).  Linguistic, Rights
and Wrongs.  Applied Linguistics, 16(4), 483-504.

 14. Putz, M. (Ed). (1995). Discrimination through Language in Africa.
 Perspectives on the Namibian Experience.  Mouton de Gruyter.

 15. Slaughter, Helen B. & Lai Morris.  (1994). Indigenous Language
Immersion as an Alternative Form of Schooling for Children of Hawaiian
Ancestry.  Lessons from a Six-Year Study.

 16. The Namibian (November 29, 2002). Education Ministry Vows to
Reverse Failures.

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