Educational language policy in Nigeria: A critical analysis

Date of Completion

January 2006


Education, Language and Literature|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




There are convincing reasons to believe that issues related to language diversity and language policy in education have been one of the major factors responsible for poor student academic performance in the Nigerian educational system. Historically, at times when the language competence and performance of Nigerian students improves in English, their performances in other disciplines have followed. The colonial experience led to the importation of the English language, and English began almost immediately to play a very important role in the sociolinguistic life of Nigerians. Characteristic of this period was the adoption of the English language as the language of the elites. The result of this language shift, coupled with the effects of subsequent language policies formulated for the nation and school with regard to native/indigenous languages and the use of English language, will be the principal focus of this dissertation. An attempt will be made to examine the role of the English language in Nigeria in contrast with that of the native/indigenous languages, especially with respect to their respective roles in the public school system and other societal institutions. A critical review of the research literature developed and articulated by various scholars, both Nigerian and foreign, to deal with linguistic diversity and language policy issues in the Nigerian context will aid in the development of a conceptual framework for the study. An underlying concern of this study will be the policy implications of the demonstrated linkage between primarily English-only programs for students in the Nigerian educational system and the loss of indigenous/native language skills, coupled, somewhat paradoxically, with a lack of full mastery of the English language. ^