An AILA Research
EAST AFRICA COORDINATORS:
Juliet Tembe, (Islamic University in Uganda/
Willy Ngaka (University of KwaZulu-Natal) firstname.lastname@example.org
WEST AFRICA COORDINATORS:
Kate Adoo-Adeku (University of Ghana)
SOUTHERN AFRICA COORDINATORS:
Violet Lunga, (University of Botswana)
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.
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.
Member Publication: Lexical coining, the solution to describing the grammar of poorly documented languages
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.
Vacancy: Department of Applied Linguistics, Brock University
Applications should be sent to:
April Member Profile: Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole
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.
Kolawole, O.D. (2010): Inter-disciplinarity, development studies and development practice, Development in Practice, 20(2), pp. 227-239.
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.
What: Language Practices and Values in Contemporary Ghana: Identities in the Making
What: The 5th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF5)
What: COL’s Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7)
What: eLearning Africa: 7th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education & Training
What: British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) “Language in Africa” SIG Annual Meeting
What: Language legitimacy and access: How far have we come towards fostering a multilingual South Africa after a decade and a half?
Mali Language Resource: Dogon Dictionary
Cinema Revolution in South Nigeria: Implications for Language Preference
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 period 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
Publication: Le dictionnaire kanyok-français
Togo: Capacity Building in Literacy and Non-Formal Education
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: email@example.com
Langage, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique Noire (LLACAN-UMR)
Ugandan Groups Celebrate Mother Tongue Day
Featured Publication: Journal of Eastern African Studies
Kiswahili Story Database
Bringing Local Language Alive: The University of Malawi
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 that 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.
Khuluma Beginner’s Course in Zulu
Capturing Stories: South African Voices
“ 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/
Learning to Teach Early Reading and Mathematics in Africa
Publication: Comprehension and content - Planning
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.
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.
Encyclopedia of Life Goes Multilingual
Did You Know? Origins of International Mother Language Day
Study Criticises Laptops for Children Scheme
Recommended Tool: UCLA Language Materials Project
Language Software: Polyglot 3000
Mother Tongue Resource List
TOOL: INEE Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education
REPORT: Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years, UNESCO, 2011
REPORT: In Their Own Language...Education for All, World Bank, 2005
REPORT: Planning mother tongue-based education programs in minority language communities, SIL International, 2004
POLICY BRIEF: Why and how Africa should invest in African languages and multilingual education, UNESCO, 2010
REPORT: Home language and education in the developing world, UNESCO, 2008
TOOL: Advocacy Kit for Promoting Multilingual Education: Including the Excluded, UNESCO, 2007
REPORT: Why Language Matters for the Millennium Development Goals, UNESCO, 2012
Book Title: The Burden of Educational Exclusion - Understanding and Challenging Early School Leaving in Africa
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.
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
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.