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The Language Policy of Education in Ghana: A Critical Look at the English-Only Language Policy of Education
Charles Owu-Ewie
76-85 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The language of education in multilingual societies has always been a matter of concern to educators and educational planners. Ouadraogo (2000:89) admits "Education and language issues are very complex in Africa because of the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual situation." The situation is even more severe when the official language of the nation is different from any of the indigenous languages. There is always controversy over which language to use in school especially at the lower primary level in multilingual societies. Forty-eight years after independence, Ghana is still grappling with which language to use as the medium of instruction in the lower primary school (primary one to three/grade one to three). The language policy of education in Ghana has had a checkered history since the colonial era. In May 2002, Ghana promulgated a law which mandates the use of English language (hereafter L2) as the medium of instruction from primary one (grade one) to replace the use of a Ghanaian language as the medium of instruction for the first three years of schooling and English as the medium of instruction from primary four (grade four). This new policy has attracted a lot of criticism from a section of academics, politicians, educators, traditional rulers, and the general populace. This paper looks briefly at the historical development of language policy of education in Ghana, examines what necessitated the change in policy and responds to issues raised. The paper then argues for the reversal of the new policy and proposes the implementation of a late-exit transitional bilingual education model.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages and Linguistics in Broad Perspectives
edited by John Mugane, John P. Hutchison, and Dee A. Worman
Table of contents
Printed edition: $280.00