International Review of Education

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 255–285 | Cite as

Policy and experiment in mother tongue literacy in Nigeria

  • F. Niyi Akinnaso
Articles

Abstract

The advocacy for initial mother tongue literacy in elementary schools and in adult education has been intensified within the past three decades, reflecting new attitudes to cultural diversity, especially to multilingual and multicultural education. This paper assesses the efforts made in one country, Nigeria, to achieve mother tongue literacy for its citizens, through a comparative analysis of the national policy on mother tongue literacy and the Ife experimental project, whose major purpose was to test the effectiveness of the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction throughout the six years of primary education. Although, like the Ife project, many experimental projects on mother tongue literacy in other countries are shown to have succeeded in realizing their objectives, the findings highlight the mediating effects of several non-linguistic variables. The findings indicate that its use as the medium of instruction in schools cannot compensate for the deficiencies in the educational system, particularly poor quality instructional facilities, or the social barriers in the wider society which prevent certain groups of minority children from learning well in school. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Zusammenfassung

Die Förderung der Alphabetisierung in den ursprünglichen Muttersprachen in Grundschulen und in der Erwachsenenbildung wurde in den letzten drei Jahrzehnten intensiviert. Diese spiegelt neu entwickelte Ansichten über die kulturelle Vielfalt wider, besonders im Hinblick auf mehrsprachige und multikulturelle Erziehung. In diesem Artikel werden die in Nigeria unternommenen Bemühungen um die Alphabetisierung in den Muttersprachen der Bürger beurteilt. Hierzu stellte man eine vergleichende Analyse der nationalen Politik auf in Bezug auf die Muttersprachen und das Ife-Experiment, dessen Hauptaufgabe die Überprüfung der Effektivität der Anwendung der Muttersprache als Lernmedium während der sechs Grundschuljahre ist. Obwohl viele experimentelle Projekte in anderen Ländern wie das Ife-Projekt erfolgreich ihre Ziele in der Alphabetisierung in der Muttersprache verwirklichen konnten, deuten die Ergebnisse auf die nicht unwesentlichen Auswirkungen nicht-linguistischer Variablen hin. Die Resultate zeigen außerdem, daß die Anwendung als Lernmedium in der Schule weder die Mängel im Bildungssystem ausgleichen kann, insbesondere die geringe Qualität der Lehreinrichtungen, noch die sozialen Schranken in der Gesellschaft, die Kindern aus sozialen Randgruppen den Zugang zu qualifizierter Bildung erschwert, abbauen hilft. Die Auswirkungen dieser Ergebnisse werden diskutiert.

Résumé

Le plaidoyer en faveur de l'alphabétisation initiale en langue maternelle dans les écoles élémentaires et dans l'éducation des adultes a été intensifié au cours des trente dernires années. Il traduit les nouvelles attitudes face à la diversité, particuliérement en ce qui concerne l'enseignement multilingue et multiculturel. Le présent article évalue les efforts entrepris dans un pays — le Nigeria — pour offrir une alphabétisation en langue maternelle à ses citoyens grâce à une analyse comparée de la politique nationale d'alphabétisation en langue maternelle et du projet expérimental d'Ife, dont l'objectif majeur était de tester l'efficacité de l'utilisation de la langue maternelle comme médium d'instruction durant les six années d'enseignement primaire. Comme pour le projet d'Ife, bien que de nombreux projets expérimentaux d'alphabétisation en langue maternelle mis en oeuvre dans d'autres pays semblent avoir réussi à atteindre leurs objectifs, les résultats obtenus soulignent les effets indirects de plusieurs variables non linguistiques. Ils indiquent que l'utilisation de la langue maternelle comme médium d'instruction dans les écoles ne compense pas les déficiences du systéme éducatif, particuliérement les équipements pédagogiques de médiocre qualité ou les barrières sociales de la société en général qui empêchent certains groupes d'enfants issus de minorités d'apprendre bien à l'école. On discute des incidences de ces résultats.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

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  • F. Niyi Akinnaso

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