[lg policy] Eritrea:

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 28 21:26:00 UTC 2010

ForumLanguage, 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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