Power can be equated to the possession of a particular language used to navigate the world. In Mali and Burkina Faso, two former colonies of France, language choice for instruction in mainstream primary schools remains a struggle between the powerful and the powerless. Fifty years after independence from France, both countries continue to recognize French as the official language and as the medium of instruction in primary schools. With low literacy rates and high dropout rates in both countries, attention must be given to the effects French language has on these two post-colonial societies. First-acquired language instruction has been shown to increase positive cultural identity, literacy rates, and community involvement in the schools. Yet communities continue to strive for French language aptitude in their children with the hope that this ability will provide social mobility. The reality is that 80% of children follow the occupations of their parents and become subsistence farmers (Lavoie, 2008). Experimental first acquired language schools are funded by the government, outside agencies, and other nations seeking to promote literacy in Mali and Burkina Faso. These schools have shown mixed results, as the citizens of the communities involved have serious concerns that their children will not be provided with the same education as children who attend the French language schools. Due to increased literacy rates associated with a community focused education, more research in experimental schools using first acquired language instruction is necessary to ascertain the factors that must be considered in providing literacy opportunities for children.
Politics of Language: The Struggle for Power in Schools in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Vol. 39 Issue (2).
Retrieved from: http://trace.tennessee.edu/internationaleducation/vol39/iss2/2