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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Revisiting Language Policy on Education in Ghana

Dr Akosua Anyidoho, Nana Akua Anyidoho.

The recent announcement by the Minister of Education of Ghana that 'henceforth the only medium of instruction at all levels of education shall be English' has generated some debate in the country, and rightly so; as the foundation of a building determines its strength, so does the training children receive during their formative years determines the success or failure of the whole educational enterprise.

The arguments the Minister put forward in support of the decision during various public discussions are the following:

1. To enable pupils to gain a high level of proficiency in English because all examinations are conducted in English;
2. to bridge the gap between the academic performance of pupils in private and public schools;
3. to avoid any delay in introducing English to children;
4. to enable pupils to participate in and benefit from the global economy using a global language.

Apart from these main arguments, the Minister also enumerated some problems that made the former bilingual set-up unworkable. These problems are related to:

5. Movements of pupils across linguistic areas;
6. mixtures of linguistic groups in urban classrooms;
7. inadequate numbers of native teachers in some languages;
8. lack of learning and teaching materials in some languages;
9. high cost of producing books in all the languages.

Researchers in language policy on education know that these are indeed recycled arguments. At various points in the history of many multilingual countries, these issues have been debated. However, the fact that Ghana – the country that provided an example in first language education for many African countries; that led the African emancipation movement in the fifties and sixties – should debate these issues all over again at the beginning of the 21st century prompts a re-visitation of the matter. This paper explores the underlying ideological and pedagogical issues behind the new policy.


Dr Akosua Anyidoho  (United States)

Northwestern University

Nana Akua Anyidoho  (United States)

School of Education and Social Policy
Northwestern University

Nana Akua Anyidoho is a doctoral student in the program of Human Development and Social Policy (School of Education and Social Policy) at Northwestern University. Her research interests centre on the sociocultural context of development. Before entering graduate school, she taught junior high school, worked in community development and as a business consultant.

  • Language policy
  • Language of instruction
  • Ghana

(30 min Conference Paper, English)