Pat Hall's questions for Pam McLean open up a whole range of issues regarding the intersection of sociolinguistics, and language and education policies with ICT policy that are pertinent to the discussion but probably need to be explored in depth elsewhere. I'll let Pam reply on the particular case of Yoruba with which she is more familar than I, but the general situation in African educational systems has been to favor the official languages inherited from colonization even though these are no one's maternal languages. Many countries where English is used have policies for some African language instruction at lower grades shifting to English later, though I've heard that application is uneven at best, while the general rule where French is the official language has long been a French-only (from day one) approach. Although a few people manage to excel under (or despite?) these type of systems, many others end up with limited skills in their maternal language (e.g., can't write it, don't have as wide a range of expression as they might) and limited skills in the official language (in which, at least in the typical Francophone model, learning is by rote).
One wonders if this isn't an underappreciated dimension to the development struggles of the continent: the means haven't been there or allocated to developing and applying effective bilingual education, hence the majority of school leavers don't end up with an optimal set of language skills and all that would go with that. On the ICT side, one of the reasons for pushing for multilingual capacities on computer systems and African language content on Internet for the continent, is to open up the possibility for use of and expression in - and indeed learning of/in - the mother tongues and vehicular languages, whatever does or doesn't happen in the educational systems (regarding the latter, there are some hopeful developments in some places like in Mali). But because even literate people may not be multiliterate, and also because of the importance of oral tradition, innovation - regarding audio especially, as many of us are saying - would seem to be an essential part of the strategy ... As well as a way to avoid having someone translate Yoruba to English to write in a letter/e-mail and perhaps someone else translate English to Yoruba on the receiving end. Don Osborn Bisharat.net ------------ This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by the dot-ORG USAID Cooperative Agreement, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org provides more information. To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type: subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd For the GKD database, with past messages: http://www.GKDknowledge.org