The Power of the Local (Education Choices and Language Maintenance among the Bafut, Kom and Nso’ Communities of Northwest Cameroon)
Author: Barbara Louise Trudell
Publication date: 2004
Number of pages: 331
Format / Quality: PDF-zipped
Size: 1,53MB

This study is an exploration of the relationship between the education choices made
by the members of three minority language communities of the Northwest Province of
Cameroon, and maintenance of the mother tongues of those communities. In each of these
three language communities, mother-tongue development initiatives – including a mothertongue
primary education programme – have been operating for more than ten years.
Response to these initiatives has had ramifications for uses of the mother tongue in those
communities, in both written and oral form.
The research which informs this study was carried out from September 2002-August
2003 in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. The study utilises document analysis,
observational data and data from an array of interviews to investigate the nature of the
relationship between language and education among the Bafut, Kom and Nso’ language
communities of Northwest Province. That relationship is elucidated in multiple strands of
investigation: an examination of the history of language and education among the Bafut, Kom
and Nso’ communities; an analysis of the ways in which the local language is currently used
among language community members, in both its oral and written forms; and an examination
of the individual and institutional stakeholders that influence use of the local language in the
communities and in the primary school classrooms.
The investigation results in several observations regarding the elements of an African
minority language environment which contribute to sustainable language development,
particularly through language-related choices in the primary school. The research findings
also argue for the pivotal importance of local choice in shaping both educational trends and
language use patterns.

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