Applied Linguistics and Literacy in
Africa and the Diaspora

An AILA Research
Network
www.aila.info


EDITORIAL BOARD
EDITOR AND WEBMASTER:
Lauryn Oates, (University of British Columbia)
lauryn.oates@gmail.com

EAST AFRICA COORDINATORS:
Jacinta Ndambuki, (University of the
Witwatersrand)
njacintah@yahoo.com

Juliet Tembe, (Islamic University in Uganda/
University of British Columbia)
tembehirome02@gmail.com

Willy Ngaka (University of KwaZulu-Natal) wngaka@yahoo.co.uk

WEST AFRICA COORDINATORS:
Dipo Salami, (Obafemi Awolowo University) diposalami@yahoo.com

Kate Adoo-Adeku (University of Ghana)

FRANCOPHONE COORDINATOR:
JeDene Reeder (SIL International/Simon Fraser University)
jedene_reeder@sil.org

SOUTHERN AFRICA COORDINATORS:
Gregory Kamwendo, (University of Botswana)
kamwendog@mopipi.ub.bw

Violet Lunga, (University of Botswana)
sibongile59@yahoo.co.uk

ADVISOR:
Bonny Norton (University of British Columbia) bonny.norton@ubc.ca

 
EDITOR’S COMMENT

Dear ReN members,Dear ReN members,

Welcome to the April edition of the newsletter of the Research Network on Applied Linguistics and Literacy in Africa and the Diaspora. It’s hard to believe that this is the sixth volume of newsletters already. There continues to be an abundance of content to try to fit into every issue, as this network strives consistently in its work to better understand language and literacy in African contexts. I am pleased that our newsletter’s membership has greatly diversified since we began, representing nearly every country in Africa, and a multitude of scholarly institutions as well as NGOs, think tanks, independent researchers, journals, networks and others.

February 21st was International Mother Tongue Day. The UN designated day was creatively celebrated across Africa in many different ways. We bring you news of how network members marked this day, as well as a list of mother tongue language resources.

This issue features a number of language tools developed from within Africa, and highlights some publications regarding such efforts: Saidi Omar Dramani’s paper from Uganda on lexical coining, the Dogon Dictionary from Mali, the Khuluma Beginner’s Course in Zulu, the Kanyok-French dictionary, the Kiswahili Stories Database, and the remarkable work of the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Malawi. This sampling of innovative initiatives to document and vitalize African languages, often using digital tools, demonstrates a vibrant landscape of living languages finding new vehicles of dissemination and evolution in the modern era. As others embark on projects experimenting with the creation of digital language tools, there is much that can be learned from the many efforts already underway.

We welcome your feedback and hope that you enjoy this issue, share it with others, and help to further expand this network.

Yours,

Lauryn Oates,
Editor

 

NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM ReN MEMBERS


ReN Member Travels to Sudan for TESOL Conference
Beth Lewis Samuelson, Dept. of Literacy, Culture and Language Education
W.W. Wright School of Education, Indiana University-Bloomington

With support from the African Studies Program, the Center for the Study of Global Change, and the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington, I was able to travel to Khartoum, Sudan, to give a keynote address at the TESOL Sudan 3rd Annual Conference (December 17-18, 2011). Following the conference, I facilitated a two-day professional development workshop for English teachers at Sudan University of Science and Technology. This workshop was sponsored by TESOL Sudan and was entitled “Current Approaches to Teaching English through Literature.” It addressed participatory approaches to teaching academic literacy through literature-based, authentic English materials. Forty teachers from around the country studied and practiced strategies for developing and implementing a content-based literacy unit, including reader response strategies and critical analysis designed to help English Learners develop skills for taking meaning from text. I also received a Stern Strom Teaching Award from Facing History & Ourselves, which will provide two scholarships for online seminars for participants in the December workshop.

tesol

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Member Publication: Lexical coining, the solution to describing the grammar of poorly documented languages
Saidi Omar Dramani, Dept. of Languages, Literature and Linguistics, Islamic University in Uganda

Abstract: In this paper, I report on a study about word coinage to enrich the vocabulary of Lugbarati, one of Uganda’s poorly documented languages. The broader objective of the study was to create alternative words for grammatical explanations such as parts of speech. Specifically, the study aimed at finding the parts of speech and other grammatical elements in Lugbarati and then coining new words to describe them. The method used was in line with what Jackson (1988:20-30) has noted: “Borrowing words from other languages is not the only way in which the vocabulary of a language may be expanded. A number of linguistic processes may operate to enable speakers to coin words from those in the vocabulary.” I used compounding to coin new words that help in explaining the grammar of Lugbarati. Testing for acceptability was carried out by going to public places like markets and taxi parks to ask the public to read and make their comments as well as meeting with local community leaders who are conversant with the language. The results of the testing showed that most respondents were in agreement with the researcher. However, a few others (about 2%), did not accept some of the coinages, for example, wura, to refer to (quality or state) which the researcher coined to stand for ‘adjective’. Generally, the coinages that fit in the framework of the process for word coinage were accepted and incorporated. It was also found that there are no grammar books in Lugbarati; teachers who handle the teaching of vernacular in lower primary schools are not trained for the task and consequently, they use English words to talk about parts of speech in Lugbarati for which they have no local words.
For the full paper, please send a request to: Saidi Omar Dramani dramanisaidi@gmail.com

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Vacancy: Department of Applied Linguistics, Brock University
The Department of Applied Linguistics invites applications for a 12-month Instructional Limited-Term Appointment in Applied Linguistics at the rank of Lecturer or Assistant Professor starting July 1st 2012. Applicants must have a PhD in Linguistics or a closely related field in hand or near completion, with course work and/or thesis concentration in the areas of the designated courses. Applicants must also have teaching experience in the context of a university-level linguistics (or closely similar) program, as instructor responsible for all aspects of one or more courses. Because some courses to be taught under this contract are part of a program for TESL Ontario Adult ESL Certification, applicants must hold or be eligible to obtain TESL Ontario TESL Trainer Accreditation at least for Theory. The courses to be taught include eight single-term assignments, which we anticipate will be balanced four/four over the autumn and winter terms: LING 1F94 (Introduction to General Linguistics: 2nd half of a two-term course), LING1P92 (Introduction to the Psychology of Language), LING2P50 (Phonetics), LING2P53 (Phonology), LING3P61 (Child Language Acquisition: Early Stages), LING3P71 (Syntax), LING3P94 (Semantics and Pragmatics), and LING3P95 (Discourse Analysis). The Department of Applied Linguistics at Brock has eleven permanent faculty members plus one limited term appointment, and has a vibrant undergraduate program and an M.A. program. Review of applications will commence on April 25, 2012 and will continue until the position is filled. Applicants should submit a letter of application accompanied by a curriculum vitae and evidence of teaching competence, and should arrange for the submission of three letters of reference. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. The position is subject to final budgetary approval.

Applications should be sent to:
Professor John Sivell, jsivell@brocku.ca
Chair, Department of Applied Linguistics, Brock University
St Catharines, ON L2S 3A1

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KolawoleApril Member Profile: Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole
Position: Senior Research Scholar (in Rural Development)
Institution: Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Maun, Botswana

Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole earned his PhD from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in southwestern Nigeria. He also received a Master of Arts in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, Brighton, England. Until his appointment as Senior Research Scholar at the Okavango Research Institute of the University of Botswana in 2010, Dr. Kolawole was Senior Lecturer at his alma mater in Nigeria. In the last ten years, he has been working in the interface of science, policy and agriculture in Africa. Primarily trained in the field of Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology from which his interest in adult literacy emanates, Oluwatoyin has positioned himself as an undisciplined academic whose diverse interests are largely informed by his passion for rural well-being. The various literacy awards and research grants which he has received from the International Reading Association, USA, are instructive of his contributions to the literacy world. He is a member of many research networks and has attended many regional and international conferences in Africa, Europe and the Oceania.

Amongst his many scientific publications are:

Kolawole, O.D. (2011): Adults who learn: sharing literacy project experience from south-western Nigeria, International journal of lifelong education, 30(6), pp. 795-813.
www.tandfonline.com/eprint/sbFAd8hwCIg6GCQ32ysf/full

Kolawole, O.D. (2010): Inter-disciplinarity, development studies and development practice, Development in Practice, 20(2), pp. 227-239.
www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09614520903564223

Kolawole, O.D. (2011): Imagine Isoya: A life transforming functional literacy project in South-western Nigeria, AILA Africa ReN Newsletter, 1(5), April, pp. 3-5.
www.renafrica.org/renafrica/RenAfrica/April11HTML

 

Upcoming Conferences

confWhat: Language Practices and Values in Contemporary Ghana: Identities in the Making
When: November 29 – 30, 2012
Where: University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Summary: The conference forms part of a programme of activities sponsored by the British Academy under its UK-Africa Academic Partnership scheme and aims to highlight research into the complexity and dynamism of language in modern-day Ghana and in the Ghanaian diaspora. Contributions are also welcome on relevant linguistic research in other African contexts.
Contact Information: www.edgehill.ac.uk/english/ukafrica
Organizers: Dr Jo Shoba shobajo@edgehill.ac.uk,
Professor Kari Dako karidako@gmail.com
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: August 1, 2012

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confWhat: The 5th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF5)
When: May 24 – 26, 2012
Where: Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey
Summary: The theme of the conference is ‘Pedagogical Implications of ELF in the Expanding Circle’. However, you may submit abstracts on ELF-related topics, such as ELF and Language Education, the Sociolinguistics of ELF, and ELF and Language Policy. Abstracts should be in English for paper, visual and symposium presentations.
Contact Information: www.elf5.org
Organizers: Department of Foreign Language Education at Bogaziçi University
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: closed

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confWhat: COL’s Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7)
When: November 2013
Where: Abuja, Nigeria
Summary: The five-day programme is designed to explore applications of open and distance learning in widening educational access, bridging the digital divide and advancing the social and economic development of communities and nations at large. The Forum’s focus is on topics relating to developing countries and participation of practitioners from these countries. COL’s Excellence in Distance Education Awards are also presented at the Forum.
Contact Information: www.col.org/pcf
Organizers: Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Federal Ministry of Education (Nigeria), and The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: Not announced yet.

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confWhat: eLearning Africa: 7th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education & Training
When: May 23 - 25, 2012
Where: Palais des Congrès de Cotonou, Cotonou, Benin
Summary: eLearning Africa is the key networking event for developing eLearning capacities in Africa, a dynamic forum for sharing the latest research, best practice guidance and case studies on the integration of ICT into education and training for all sectors of economic development, including business, education, agriculture, health delivery and governance. The overall theme of the conference is eLearning and Sustainability, explored within five sub-themes: sustainable communities; appropriate and sustainable technologies; sustainable change management; sustainable resources; and sustainable economy, culture and society.
Contact Information: www.elearning-africa.com
Organizers: e-Learning Africa
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: closed

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confWhat: British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) “Language in Africa” SIG Annual Meeting
When: May 5, 2012
Where: School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG
Summary: Theme is ‘The social life of language and language development in Africa’. The objective of the meeting is to enable LiA SIG members and others to get together, present their research, and discuss current issues related to language and literacy in African schools, and other issues which relate to the sociolinguistic or sociocultural contexts of language use in Africa, including language endangerment and development. Keynote speaker is Dr Jo Westbrook University of Sussex. The Meeting fee is £20.00 for BAAL members, £30.00 for non-members and £10 for students. Pre-pay at www.liasig.wordpress.com
Contact Information: annetteislei@gmail.com
Organizers: Annette Islei, Secretary
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: closed

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confWhat: Language legitimacy and access: How far have we come towards fostering a multilingual South Africa after a decade and a half?
When: August 24, 2012
Where: University of the Witswatersrand, Braamfontein, South Africa
Summary: As the school is just one year younger than South Africa’s constitution, the conference will highlight current trends and political concerns involved with the language areas that WLS is engaged in, such as language teaching, teacher education, and translation and interpreting. We will examine these areas as they relate to South Africa’s Bill of Rights on language in important domains such as education, cultural life and the judicial system. Although the focus of the Bill of Rights is on equity and inclusion, access to language resources is still contestable in these contexts. The conference will provide a space to share insights as well as to highlight successes and areas that need improvement and advocates.
Contact Information: Cate.Almon@wits.ac.za for full proposal instructions.
Organizers: Wits Language School
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: May 1, 2012

FOCUS ON...WEST AFRICA

Mali Language Resource: Dogon Dictionary
The Dogon dictionary was compiled by Marcel Kervran, a member of the Peres Blancs, who lived in the town of Bandiagara, Mali for about 30 years. The dictionary has over 7,000 head words. Find it at the University of Iowa Libraries, Center for Electronic Resources in African Studies: sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/african-studies

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Cinema Revolution in South Nigeria: Implications for Language Preference
by Kathryn Philip, University Library, University of Uyo, Nigeria

In Uyo and Port Harcourt, two oil- rich cities in the Akwa Ibom and River States of Nigeria, it’s not uncommon to find film and viewing centers along major streets and leisure areas. Patronage is mostly at noon or in the evenings, when youths and others have retired from their day’s work. As a boost to these leisure outlets, the Akwa Ibom State Governments set up a central outdoor cinema in the heart of town with reception via satellite for public viewing particularly during the festive and sports season, with international football matches shown in particular.

In the last quarter of 2011 in Uyo, a hi-tech Cineplex with 3D technology was launched to mark the yuletide movieperiod leading to a surge of non localized film content being shown, which obviously, leading to increased interest in popular global culture. The consumption of foreign media content offers a diversion from local content, as well as offering a wider choice of entertainment options. Many among the younger age groups are intrinsically keen on the pedagogical benefits of extending their cultural frontiers. They consider local media output to be unpopular and perhaps too ‘primitive’ to capture their interest. The implications are that peculiar local phrases and other unique indigenous expressions may be lost in time. In light of this, indigenous films and messages that portray local heritage should be promoted and diversified to the extent possible, to preserve and dialects in the Southern minority Nigerian groups, especially those with little or no documentation and official recognition.

For more information, please email Kathryn at
kathphilip@yahoo.com

 


FOCUS on... Francophone Africa

Publication: Le dictionnaire kanyok-français
Prof. Mukash Kalel, Département de lettres et civilizations africaines, Université de Kinshasa
Le dictionnaire kanyok-français est un dictionnaire bilingue. Il présente sur le plan synchronique les entrées de cette langue bantu de la zone L 32. Les entrées en question sont alignées dans l’ordre alphabétique. Nous notons le ton bas, la faille tonale et la quantité vocalique. Chaque entrée est suivie de la catégorie grammaticale, de la traduction en français, des exemples, avec si possible un proverbe, un adage, un titre, une devinette. Si l’entrée est culturellement chargée, nous donnons les commentaires y relatifs. L’entrée polysémique est présentée avec ses différents sens. Les homonymes constituent des entrées bien distinctes. Nous avons aussi exploité la collocation en rapport avec les locutions et les composés. Nous avons donné les idéophones et les onomatopées, les jeux verbaux comme l’imitation des chants d’oiseaux. Nous donnons les emprunts avec leur origine éventuelle, les noms propres. Le tout tient en 770 pages, forma A5, police 11. Infos: mukash_kalel@yahoo.fr

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Togo: Capacity Building in Literacy and Non-Formal Education
By JeDene Reeder
In December 2011 and January 2012, UNESCO’s Projet CapEFA office for Togo sponsored a series of three capacity building workshops for the National Literacy and Non-Formal Education Office (Direction Nationale de l’Alphabétisation et l’Éducation Non Formelle) and certain national partners (NGOs), to help them do the necessary research to deepen their understanding of what is currently happening in literacy and in non-formal education in the country, and to analyze and write up the data. This report then goes to UNESCO.

The 25 participants worked on five committees to research the current state of affairs in pedagogical and post-literacy materials in local languages and French; language policy; literacy costs; the availability of training; and capacity building availability and needs. Each committee met with actors on the ground in each of Togo’s regions to learn from them what is happening. Among the strengths identified was the recent drawing up of a national literacy curriculum, for which a national forum to present this to all literacy actors is planned. However, a number of needs were also identified, including a national language policy that grants official status to all local languages, the development of a literate environment that includes local languages, and insufficient human, material, and financial resources. For more information, please contact JeDene Reeder: jedene_reeder@sil.org

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Langage, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique Noire (LLACAN-UMR)
The LLACAN-UMR is a site for African language research in France, with a directory of researchers in African languages, (by African language, by African country), including lists of their publications and courses taught. The site also has bibliographies organized by African country, by title, and by type, as well as a survey of French research centers for African languages, recent publications, conferences, etc. llacan.cnrs-bellevue.fr

 

east africaFOCUS ON...EAST AFRICA

Ugandan Groups Celebrate Mother Tongue Day
Craig Esbeck of Mango Tree’s Northern Uganda Literacy program reports that in Lira, the Lango Language Board had a celebration in honour of International Mother Language Day and launched two new books in Leblango. Congratulations to Dr. Okaka Opio Dokotum, the language board chairman, and his volunteer board. Meanwhile, Stellah Tumwebaze, the Executive Director of Literacy and Adult Basic Education (LABE), reports that LABE, UNATU and FAWE have put together an Implementation Strategy for Advocacy of Local Languages. These groups held celebrations for Mother Tongue Day in Gulu, Amuru, Koboko, Adjumani, Yumbe and Arua, where children, teachers and parents were invited to exhibit their newly produced local language supplementary materials (children’s magazines, booklets and pictorial charts). They have plans to widely disseminate their new strategy in Uganda. To request a copy of the Implementation Strategy for Advocacy of Local Languages, contact Stellah K.Tumwebaze at stellah@labeuganda.org

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EASFeatured Publication: Journal of Eastern African Studies
The Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa is based in Nairobi, Kenya, and published by Routledge three times annually. The journal includes articles in the humanities and social sciences, especially archaeology, history, linguistics and anthropology of Eastern Africa, and content encourages interdisciplinary analysis. The Editors welcome submissions from all academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including archaeology, anthropology, cultural studies, development studies, economics, environmental studies, geography, history, international relations, literatures and languages, political economy, politics, social policy and sociology. For information on submissions please contact jeas@africa.ox.ac.uk
www.informaworld.com

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Kiswahili Story Database
The Kiswahili Story Database is an initiative of the Africa Resource Center that is curated by Brillian Besi Muhonja, professor of Africana Studies, Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and Women’s Studies at James Madison University, and David B. Otiende, Deputy Director of Academic Affairs at The Cooperative College of Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya. View the current edition here: www.africaknowledgeproject.org/index.php/ksd

FOCUS ON...SOUTHERN AFRICA

Bringing Local Language Alive: The University of Malawi
The Centre for Language Studies at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College was established in 1996 with the purpose of replacing the Chichewa Board, the institution that had had the responsibility of promoting the development of Chichewa, Malawi’s national language. Today, the Centre’s main mandate is to promote the development of all Malawian languages and guide government on language policy matters, while it also carries out research and consults on other languages spoken in Malawi, including English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The centre undertakes an eclectic and innovative array of activities that bring theory into practice, and practice into theory. From offering language courses, translation service and undertaking research in language studies, the Centre also engages in the use of digital media for language documentation and promotion. For instance, the Malawi Lexicon Project (MaLex) is a lexicon creation project for several languages from Malawi malawithat also includes a component on introducing and using modern methodologies from computational and corpus linguistics to improve lexicon creation efficiency and “to make the final result reusable in new projects”. The project also supports a number of Malawian students pursuing doctoral studies in topics related to the project, such as student Jean Chavula at the Leiden University Centre f or Linguistics, whose dissertation topic is Verbal derivation in Tumbuka using HPSG.

The Centre has set up a Wiki that provides content on their services, research projects, symposia, language courses, the work of their faculty and researchers, and newsletters. The Wiki focuses on work in three languages in particular: Chichewa, Citumbuka and Ciyawo. It includes access to projects of the Centre such as their online dictionaries, grammars, and corpora.
View the Wiki here: www.unima-cls.org/pmwiki/
Learn more about the Centre for Language Studies here:
www.unima-cls.org

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Khuluma Beginner’s Course in Zulu
Beverley Muller and Sihawukele Ngubane have written a beginner’s course book for learning the Zulu language. The book comes with audio files, and helps readers to learn conversational Zulu. Order information can be found here: durbanet.co.za/khuluma/khuluma1.htm

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Capturing Stories: South African Voices
South African Voices is a collection of oral tales, histories, and poems from the Nguni peoples: the Xhosa and Zulu in South Africa, the Swati in Swaziland, and the Ndebele in the southern part of Zimbabwe. The items are collected by Professor Harold Scheub of the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The texts are keyword searchable, and many include audio files. From Professor Scheub’s introduction:

“ Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, I made a number of research trips to southern Africa, hoping to gather a representative collection of oral tales, histories, and poems from among the Nguni peoples: the Xhosa and Zulu in South Africa, the Swati in Swaziland, and the Ndebele in the southern part of Zimbabwe. I encountered a wealth of oral traditions, met hundreds of storytellers, mythmakers, poets, and historians, and was allowed by these enormously talented raconteurs and poets to tape many of these works. In the end, I had taped and filmed over 9,000 pieces of oral tradition.”

Access the collection here: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/SouAfrVc/

 

RESEARCH CORNER

Learning to Teach Early Reading and Mathematics in Africa
The Centre for International Education, University of Sussex, recently published their research report on Teacher Preparation and Continuing Professional Development in Africa: learning to teach early reading and mathematics. Six countries were involved: Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Learn more here: www.sussex.ac.uk/education/cie/projectscompleted/tpa

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Publication: Comprehension and content - Planning
literacy curriculum in low socioeconomic and culturally diverse schools
This article reframes comprehension as a social and intellectual practice. It reviews literature on current approaches to reading instruction for linguistically and culturally diverse and low socioeconomic students, noting the current policy emphasis on the teaching of comprehension as autonomous skills and ‘strategies’. The Four Resources model (Freebody & Luke, 1990) is used to situate comprehension instruction with an emphasis on student cultural and community knowledge, and substantive intellectual and sociocultural content in elementary and middle school curricula. Illustrations are drawn from research underway on the teaching of literacy in low socioeconomic schools.

Luke, Allan, Dooley, Karen T., & Woods, Annette F. (2010) Comprehension and content: Planning literacy curriculum in low socioeconomic and culturally diverse schools. The Australian Educational Researcher, 38(2), pp. 149-166.

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Tell us about your research! Send us a short profile (one paragraph) of the research you are undertaking on language or literacy education in Africa by September 1, 2012 for inclusion in our next issue.


In the Field

eol logoEncyclopedia of Life Goes Multilingual
The Encyclopedia of Life is an online, open access repository of information and pictures “of all species known to science.” The collection is a fascinating and rich collection of data, with the intent of making life forms known on earth accessible to anyone, anywhere. While much of the content is pictorial, EOL has recently started to expand the data in languages other than English, including Spanish, Afar, French, German, Dutch and Portuguese. If you can help, contact Eli Agbayani eagbayani@eol.org.
Visit EOL at www.eol.org

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Did You Know? Origins of International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

Source: United Nations, 2012 International Mother Language Day: Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education

 

WHAT’S NEW IN TECHNOLOGY

Study Criticises Laptops for Children Scheme
This article looks at the findings of recent research conducted on the “One Laptop per Child” (OLPC) scheme, which has sent over a million US$100 laptops to children in the developing world, evaluating the OLPC initiative in Ethiopia. Access it here:
www.comminit.com/en/node/296886/307

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Recommended Tool: UCLA Language Materials Project
The Language Materials Project (LMP) is an on-line bibliographic database of teaching and learning materials for over 100 Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs). The LMP, which is funded by the US Department of Education International Education and Graduate Program Service, was created in 1992. Ten African countries are represented in the database: click on the African continent in the map on the homepage to browse:
www.lmp.ucla.edu/

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Language Software: Polyglot 3000
Polyglot 3000 is a software program for Microsoft Windows that is “an automatic language identifier that quickly recognizes the language of any text, phrase or even single words.” The program recognizes more than 400 languages, including many African languages, and is produced by Likasoft, a company based in Cyprus. www.polyglot3000.com

 

PUBLICATIONS, RESOURCES, & TOOLS

motherMother Tongue Resource List
In recognition of International Mother Tongue Day, the following is a list of relevant resources, compiled courtesy of the International Network for Education in Emergencies:

TOOL: INEE Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education
With the input of many INEE members, INEE’s Task Team on Inclusive Education and Disability developed this tool as a quick reference guide to help practitioners make sure that education in emergencies is accessible and inclusive for everyone, particularly those who have been traditionally excluded from education. Meeting the needs of cultural and linguistic minorities is a key-crosscutting theme in this document. This tool is now available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish! For hardcopies click here.

REPORT: Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years, UNESCO, 2011
This literature review discusses mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education for children starting in early childhood. The report: (1) informs policy-makers of existing research and practices in mother-tongue instruction in early childhood and early primary school years; and (2) raises awareness of the value of maintaining the world’s languages and cultures by promoting and resourcing mother tongue-based education for young children.

REPORT: In Their Own Language...Education for All, World Bank, 2005
The brief highlights the benefits of the use of first language instruction along with potential challenges and lessons learned.

REPORT: Planning mother tongue-based education programs in minority language communities, SIL International, 2004
This manual is for the planning and implementation of education programs that promote life-long education in minority language communities. Chapter One presents an overview of mother tongue- based education programs. Each of the next eight chapters deals with the essential features of strong and sustained programs. Resource sections at the end of some of the chapters provide additional materials relating to the topics that are discussed in that chapter.

POLICY BRIEF: Why and how Africa should invest in African languages and multilingual education, UNESCO, 2010
This advocacy brief seeks to show the pivotal role of languages in achieving such learning. It aims in particular to dispel prejudice and confusion about African languages, and exposes the often hidden attempt to discredit them as being an obstacle to learning. It draws on research and practice to argue what kind of language policy in education would be most appropriate for Africa.

REPORT: Home language and education in the developing world, UNESCO, 2008
In this report the relationship between the language spoken at home and educational attendance and attainment is studied for 26 developing countries from all regions of the developing world.

TOOL: Advocacy Kit for Promoting Multilingual Education: Including the Excluded, UNESCO, 2007
This kit is designed to raise awareness on the importance of mother tongue-based multilingual education (MLE). It presents key arguments and facts about MLE and provides important insights about the value and benefits of providing education in learners’ mother tongue.

REPORT: Why Language Matters for the Millennium Development Goals, UNESCO, 2012
This report underscores the fact that language is the key to inclusion and at the center of human activity, self-expression and identity. Recognizing the primary importance that people place on their own language fosters the kind of true participation in development that achieves lasting results.

bookAPRIL BOOK REVIEW

bookBook Title: The Burden of Educational Exclusion - Understanding and Challenging Early School Leaving in Africa
Editors: Zeelen, J., van der Linden, J.,Nampota, D., & Ngabirano, M.
Date of Publication: 2010
Publisher: Sense Publishers
Place of publication: Rotterdam
Number of pages: 270
ISBN 978-94-6091-282-5 (paperback)

Reviewed by: Dr. Juliet Tembe, the Islamic University of Uganda

This is an insightful publication that highlights issues of importance in our education system here in Uganda. From the coastal regions in Tanzania, to our own landlocked Uganda, through to the conflict situation of Sudan, the authors of “The Burden of Educational Exclusion” articulate the shattered dreams of marginalized youth. There are voices everywhere in our midst yearning for an education that has excluded them due to socio-ecoomic barriers. Reading this book awakens us to the realities of an education system that is hardly inclusive. What has gone wrong? Policies have been formulated, but not practiced. This book brings together in one volume reports arising from research and practical experience that can inform education policies on early school leaving. Most of the content in the book is drawn from research findings of the Early School Leaving project (ESLA) in Africa.

Introduction. The book enhances the academic and policy debate about educational exclusion and early school leaving. It underscores the realities and developments in education in sub-Saharan Africa, though most of the content is drawn from East and Southern Africa. Chapter after chapter, the authors provide insight into the authenticity of educational exclusion in varied situations. An analysis of the various educational systems going as far back as the pre-colonial to the colonial and to the present day, remarkably exposes the shortcomings of our education system in addressing the issues of early school leaving.

Organization. The book is divided into four parts, each of which has a different theme within the broad topic of ‘early school leaving’. Through individual and collective research and experiences, the authors contribute to the central question of early school leaving from their own niche areas of expertise. Part One begins with Openjuru’s detailed account of a history of Uganda’s education with a particular focus on vocational education. Openjuru observes how the system of education was self-contained and learners would not leave school without any vocational skills. In comparison, today education is hierarchical, with one level being a preparation for the next consequently leaving several early school leavers along the way. He contests the use of the term “school dropoutism” which in itself is stigmatizing. While good policies like UPE/USE are formulated, they lack a comprehensive implementation strategy. The situation is further compounded by the Uganda National Examination Board which focuses on quality of the students rather than on the learning taking place. A language of assessment that makes it easy for the learners to demonstrate vocational skills would go a long way in making assessment more functional.

In the next chapter, Preece and Lekhetho demonstrate through a case study of an education program for the herds boys in Lesotho that when such a program receives the support of the community, it can benefit all stakeholders. Targeted and needs-led education for marginalized populations of the community that takes into account curriculum relevance and strategies that work with community lifestyle are key in sustaining people’s attitudes. At this point, Peels and Zeelen draw our attention to a relevant and important strategy to forestall early school leaving. In their report of a field study in rural Tanzania, they demonstrate how guidance and counseling could prompt many early school leavers to make better choices. Counseling and guidance should be strengthened to abate the problem of early school leaving.

A disturbing question for a nation that depends on agriculture is raised by Kibwika, Okiror and Birungi-Kyazze: Is there relevance of a career in agriculture for Uganda’s future, especially as a way of addressing early school leaving? In their contribution, they re-examine the purpose of education and the development of a system that places due emphasis on vocational education including agriculture. The attitude of working towards “white collar jobs” still persists. Ironically, the bulk of early school leavers end up in agriculture, but look at it as a last resort. Accordingly, there is a need to re-orient the curriculum to emphasize vocational education. The situations may not be similar, but the consequences of not being able to attain a certificate or diploma after school impacts in the same way on the individuals. This is illustrated in the last chapter of this section, that from Kuiper and Van der Linden, in their research report from Groningen in the Netherlands. Even within the context of a sophisticated education system, a gap exists between the school and the world beyond. As observed in rural Tanzania, the role of counselors is critical in an effort to keep children in school or get them back to school.

The next four chapters, comprising Part Two, focus on globalization, tradition and conflict. Chapter Seven opens with a heartwrenching story of a good system that presents an opportunity (the introduction of UPE) while at the same time shows the hopelessness arising from the disconnect of a community from the education system. Kanyandogo describes the realities of school-based education where everyone struggles for the best school achievement. It is far removed from the idea of community-based education, which accounts for students’ culture, and only creates ‘failures’ for not progressing to the top. Even those who complete universities are unemployable. In his analysis, early school leaving is not necessarily due to a lack of fees or uniforms, but due to the need to endogenize school-based education to make it relevant, attractive and secure.

In relation to Kanyandogo’s views, Fundi highlights the adverse effects of cultural influence on girls’ education. The last two chapters in this section introduce the impact of war on the education system resulting in early school leaving. Angucia and Amone-Polak describe the interface between early school leaving and the conflict in Northern Uganda. The historical imbalance in education between north and south, poverty, as well as the inability of the youth to return to formal education after their experiences are some of the factors cited leading to early school leaving in this part of Uganda.

Lado Lako, Linden and Deng describe the relationship between early school leaving and war, emphasizing the hurdles that the children have to overcome in order to gain an education. Political barriers, poverty, and culture contribute to the growing number of early school leavers in Sudan. Even after the war, there are difficulties in creating a functioning educational system. Efforts to bridge the gap led to the introduction of a dual academic and vocational learning to provide an inclusive education for all.
Namusisi, through the story of Nakato, highlights the importance of communication in schools and its impact in contributing to early school leaving of the girl child. Namusisi echoes the concern of language policy raised by Openjuru. She asserts that language policy in education should be discussed by all stakeholders, including teachers, parents and children before implementation. Ngabirano discusses cultural issues as a major cause of early school leaving for the rural boy child. These include socio-cultural identity, kinship, and initiation. He proposes a community-based approach to address early school leaving especially due to traditional and cultural influences.

Intervention programs to combat educational exclusion are discussed in the next four chapters, comprising Part Four. Zeelen, drawing on research from South Africa, reveal the success of the BASWA initiative. They cite its weakness as being the manner of implementation in educational institutions.

Highlights. The strength of this book lies in the fact that whatever is reported on comes from research involving the affected
communities and the young people excluded from education. The research methodology adopted for each study was mainly qualitative and participatory in nature, thus it enabled the authors to capture the realities of the concerned people. The portraits of participants described in the various chapters help the reader follow the issues. The book speaks to all who wish to bring about change in education so that it is more inclusive. The major argument is that policies are formulated but weak in implementation, not enabling the stakeholders to realize intended benefits.

Early school leaving is a multidimensional problem caused by societal, political, in-school, family, culture and other factors. Because of the huge impact of the external factors such as poverty and poor schooling conditions, it is imperative that policy makers focus on alleviating these conditions first and foremost. In conclusion, what the book offers is a critical analysis of education in Africa as well as suggestions for the future framework of policies conducive to the retention of children in formal education systems, and calls for a full integration of vocational education into mainstream education which would go a long way in combating early school leaving.