Original Research

Policies for enhancing success or failure?  A glimpse into the language policy dilemma of one bilingual African state 

Clement Dlamini
Pythagoras | Issue 67 | a69 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v0i67.69 | © 2008 Clement Dlamini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 October 2008 | Published: 11 October 2008

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Clement Dlamini, University of the Witwatersrand , South Africa

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This paper is an attempt to extend the debate on language policy development, which so far has been dominated by African linguists and language policy planners. Little attempt has been made in the mathematics education field to highlight the discriminatory nature of some language policies, be they national or institutional polices. Dominant societies have used language to discriminate against other minority groups in numerous societies all over the world. Most research studies on language as a linguistic capital have been conducted by members of the privileged groups and the recommendations that have accompanied such studies do not provide a practical solution as to how the ‘suppressed’ minorities could be ‘liberated’ and be able to participate in their societies in a meaningful way. While language policies have affected immigrants in most European countries, it is a different story in Africa. In Africa the people most affected by discriminatory policies are the indigenous population. The paper presents a case study of one country in Africa where the language policy has been a big obstacle to indigenous learners’ quest to gain access to tertiary education. The paper compares learners’ achievement in English language and mathematics. I argue in this paper that proficiency in English language does not necessarily mean success in mathematics.


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