Capacity building in an African context


  • Gerrit J. Dimmendaal


Many African countries are characterized by large numbers of languages, however they differ with respect to the roles played by these languages in the educational system or administration. As shown below through a comparison of the situation in Sudan (section 2) and Ethiopia (section 3), these differences also affect the state the fields of descriptive and documentary linguistics find themselves in in these countries. And, not unexpectedly, this situation also determines the relative need for capacity building. An overview of language policies and capacity building in former British, French and Portuguese colonies in Africa, as presented in section 4, should make clear that colonial heritage is but one factor determining the current state of description and documentation. Language policies in the post-colonial period have fluctuated in many African countries; moreover, one frequently observes a discrepancy between the official language policy and the actual policy as practised in a number of countries. The presence of non-governmental organisations dealing with literacy projects, and consequently, with the study of indigenous languages, appears to have had a positive effect on the situation. For various historical reasons partly outlined below, the degree of capacity building needed clearly differs between countries on the African continent. Moreover...


AfricaSudanEthiopialanguage documentation and descriptioncapacity buildinglanguage policycolonialismliteracy projectsindigenous languageshistorical contextcooperation
  • Year: 2004
  • Volume: 2
  • Page/Article: 71-89
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd292
  • Published on 31 Jul 2014