Harnessing Our Multilingual Heritage for National Development

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Education has been linked to both human development and national development. This is so be-cause education (e.g. schooling, lectures on the virtues of punctuality) is believed to raise earnings, improve health, and add to a person’s good habits over much of his/her life time (Becker, 1993). In other words, education is regarded as a form of capital that supports economic growth and national development. Over the years, governments in Ghana have recognised this link between education, economic growth and national development and have committed national resources to several efforts at improving education with the hope of building human capital for national development. For instance, the Education for Accelerated National Development (1961-1966), the Kwapong Reform Committee for High Quality in Education for Growth (1967-1987), Basic Education for All (1987), Education in a Competitive Market driven Global Economy (2007-2016), and Free Senior High School Policy (2017), are major government policies that underscored the connection between education and national development. While these efforts may have yielded some results, e.g., increase in school enrolment, more access to education in general, more girls in school, higher literacy levels, etc., there is also an increase in carnage on our roads, filth on our streets and gutters, and non-working social interventions, among others which set Ghana back from being considered a developed nation. Why does our education appear not to be giving us the desired returns on all the investments governments have made in education over the years? A UNESCO (2012) report has admitted that in linguistically complex communities, when development initiatives are implemented in people’s first languages or a dominant language and in a culturally appropriate way, the people are often able to create appropriate, sustainable solutions - they are empowered to make decisions that enable them become key actors in social intervention programmes that benefit their communities. In this lecture, I focus on the role language plays both in education and in national development. I examine Ghana’s current (language in-education) policy which makes English the only capital in the country’s linguistic market, and argue that the linguistic practices that emanate from such a policy neither support the pillars of human development nor create the enabling environment for the achievement of sustainable development for national growth in the country. In other words, I argue that Ghana’s current language in-education policy makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many of the country’s human resources to achieve any appreciable level of personal development, a situation that renders the people more of a liability than an asset to the nation. I conclude by advocating a language (in-education) policy that builds upon the cultural and linguistic capital for a more effective/meaningful learning and proper human resource development which is a necessary tool for sustainable development and national progress.


Inter-College Lecture Series


Education, development, national resources, national resources