Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 1, No 3 (2007)

‘Linguistic inequalities in Nigeria and minority language education’

Herbert Igboanusi
Issued Date: 9 May 2008

Abstract


This paper identifies different forms of linguistic inequalities in Nigeria resulting from natural endowment, socio-political factors and language attitude. In the country, the value placed on linguistic resources varies – English, major languages (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) and minority languages (i.e. all other indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria) – in that (descending) order. While English is the official language of the country used as a medium of instruction from primary to tertiary education levels, Nigeria’s major languages (also recognized as ‘national’ languages) are taught as subjects in the school system and also serve as media of instruction up to the third year of primary education within the geographical zones in which they are used as L1. Most of the minority languages are neither used as media of instruction nor taught as subjects in schools. To address this imbalance, the paper suggests the use of minority languages in formal education based on the strong conviction that education is the best means of raising the value of languages, and consequently reducing linguistic inequality. It also recommends a reform of the education policy in Nigeria, which should aim at achieving high levels of bilingualism or multilingualism for both the minority and majority groups.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v1i3.513

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