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Language, Education and Identity in Africa

On the 16th of September, Bert van Pinxteren successfully defended a doctoral thesis. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Bert on this achievement!

Bert van Pinxteren
16 September 2021
Leiden University Repository

Why has Africa not been doing so well and what is the way forward? This book starts with the analysis of Vansina and Prah: the old cultural traditions in Africa have been destroyed in colonial times; new ones are currently taking shape, based in part in African languages. The book uses cross-cultural psychology to show that such new cultural traditions are indeed forming in Africa. However, almost all African countries currently use a former colonial language in secondary and higher education. The book demonstrates that if more and more people get educated, this system will no longer scale. Over the next decade, more and more African countries will have to make a transition towards increased use of African languages. The book proposes a distinction between discerned and designed languages. All over the world, designed languages are made to serve speakers of several discerned languages. This could and should happen in Africa as well. The book contains a number of brief case studies, showing how in fact such a transition is practically possible. In future, African countries will be able to achieve success in their educational systems by using a small number of languages as medium of instruction. Such a transition will also help to form the new cultural traditions that are already taking shape on the continent.

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