Languages use and literacy: lessons from Eastern Africa
Hoben, Susan J.
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INTRODUCTION: Efforts to bring literacy in reach of the world's entire adult population have been championed by UNESCO, other donor agencies, and by many national governments since the early 1950s. Africa remains the world region in which the problem of illiteracy is most acute. There are a number of reasons for this, including the complexity of the language situation in most African countries and the late development of writing systems £or the vast maJority of African languages. A number of different types of literacy projects have been mounted in African countries since the start of the 1960s, ranging from pilot projects to national campaigns. It is important to examine the effectiveness of these efforts, in their African contexts, to learn how to tailor future literacy initiatives to the special needs of literacy development on that continent. This paper will compare three campaigns in East Africa: the campaign of 1971-1981 in Tanzania, the campaign of 1974-1975 in Somalia, and the campaign started in 1979 and continuing until 1987 in Ethiopia. The analysis presented here is primarily sociolinguistic, rather than political or methodological. As such, it focuses on: the impact that differences language use have for the literacy campaigns, and in the previous history long-term effectiveness of the lessons they teach for planning and follow-up of future literacy campaigns.
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 101
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