Language Policy and Education in Southern Africa

  • Leketi Makalela
Living reference work entry
Part of the Encyclopedia of Language and Education book series (ELE)


Whereas the post-independent states in Southern Africa have attained independence from colonial rule for more than two decades, the language policy and practices largely remain similar to the ones introduced by the former colonial countries. Generally, the policies still reflect a monolingual bias toward the former colonial languages to the detriment of local African languages, which are not used in high prestige positions such as education. On the other hand, everyday discursive resources show evidence for fluid multilingualism as a norm for making sense of the world and of self. In this chapter, I explore this sociolinguistic tension, provide a synopsis of monolingual bias that cuts across a wider spectrum of current policy provisions, and demonstrate the state of linguistic fluidity in the precolonial period and confluence of languages in the past. Taken together, I argue for a reorientation of multilingualism to reflect the cultural constructs and local epistemologies found in the value system of ubuntu (African humanism) where there are infinite relations of dependency. In the end, recommendations for a return to African multilingualism are considered for adaptations by the member states in Southern Africa.


Ubuntu translanguaging Language policy African multilingualism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Languages, Literacies and LiteraturesWits School of Education, University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgRepublic of South Africa

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