Language education policy and its implementation in three schools in Windhoek, Namibia's capital city

Aminata Diallo, University of Pennsylvania


At independence, in March 1990, Namibia adopted English as its official language, replacing joint official English and Afrikaans, the lingua franca of the country. Unique to this decision was the historical absence of English in the country's colonial past, the small percentage of first language speakers of English, the minimal use of English in the education system and its virtual non-use as a language of communication. Formal education was tasked with implementing a comprehensive language education policy within the framework of transitional bilingualism. The policy, which stipulates 'home language medium for the first three years with a phasing-in of English medium from the fourth year of primary education' has met with differential implementation in Namibian schools, affecting classroom practice and educational outcomes. This study describes language policy implementation in the nation's capital city, Windhoek, in three schools that draw learners from markedly different socio-economic and linguistic backgrounds. The study offers an ethnographic description of how the teaching and teaming of English is accomplished and examines the current impact of policy on language use, language values and classroom practice. Ethnographic research methods, including participant observation, interviews, focus group discussions, audio recordings, and questionnaires were utilized to understand Namibian perspectives on the choice for official English and its use as educational medium. The study seeks to extend the present research literature on second-language English classrooms in post-colonial, developing countries. In particular, the study may encourage Namibian planners to take a fresh look at educational language policy in the aftermath to independence.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Diallo, Aminata, "Language education policy and its implementation in three schools in Windhoek, Namibia's capital city" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3309425.