Gambian languages and education (December 2018-December 2021) is an academic research project based at King’s College London which focusses on the integration of the languages of The Gambia in its monolingual (English only) education system. Its overarching research question is as follows:
- What role do Gambian languages play in education in The Gambia?
More particularly, Gambian languages and education focusses on a recent attempt of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (see Hsieh and Jeng 2016) to allow the Gambian languages primary children speak at home to feature in primary school education. The ministry introduced an early parallel biliteracy programme which prescribes that from grade 1 to 3 public and grant-aided primary school children receive an equal number of literacy lessons in one of The Gambia’s seven national languages (either Fula, Jola, Mandinka, Manjaku, Serahule, Serer or Wolof) and English. We therefore aim to address the following questions:
- How do parents, students, teachers, and policy makers perceive the national language literacy lessons introduced as part of the early parallel biliteracy programme?
- What challenges, if any, are those in charge of implementing the early parallel biliteracy programme facing?
Gambian languages and education is therefore particularly relevant to those interested in multilingual education approaches in post-colonial/African low resource contexts. It will run between 2018 and 2021 and is based on a collaboration between its principal investigator/PI – Dr Clyde Ancarno (Linguist at King’s College London, UK) – and three key partner organisations in The Gambia:
- The University of The Gambia (training secondary school teachers and lecturers)
- Gambia College (training nursery and primary school teachers)
- The National Language Program Unit of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education/MoBSE (leading the introduction of literacy lessons in the national languages in lower basic education)
- Hsieh, P.-T.J., and M. Jeng. 2016. Learning By-Doing: The Early Literacy in National Language Programme in The Gambia. In Understanding What Works in Oral Reading Assessment. UNESCO. http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/understanding-what-works-in-oral-reading-assessments-2016-en.pdf.