Reprinted with permission from the Christian Science Monitor.
In Senegal, elementary schools experiment with teaching students in their native language
by CS Monitor Staff
In Senegal,98 public elementary schools are experimenting with teaching students in the native language of Wolof rather than French, the language of the nation’s former colonists.
The students will benefit from instruction in the language they speak at home, linguistics professor Mbacke Diagne, of Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, told Voice of America. Most children entering elementary school in Senegal, he noted, have been functioning in Wolof for several years. “They have structured their world in this language,” he said, “but as soon as they get to school, all this knowledge is set aside in order to impose French.”
Similar movements are under way in a number of other African nations as well.
Kwamang, GhanaMelanie Stetson/Freeman/Staff/File
Not all educators agree, however. Some point out that many African nations recognize multiple languages. In Senegal, for instance, although an estimated 80 percent of the population speaks Wolof, the government also recognizes 20 other native languages. In Ghana, the official language is English, but the government recognizes an additional 11 languages, with at least 70 different dialects spoken.
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- In Senegal, elementary schools are experimenting with teaching students in the native language of Wo