Shifting Sands

Language Policies in Education in Ghana And Implementation Challenges


  • Akosua Anyidoho University of Ghana


communication, l1 in education, l1 literacy, indigenous language in education, language of instruction, Communication, L1 in education, L1 literacy, indigenous language in education, language of instruction, NALAP (National Literacy Acceleration Programme), language policy implementation, language policy implementation, nalap (national literacy acceleration programme)



This paper discusses the lack of consistency in language in education policies which have been endorsed by various governments of Ghana. A small-scale investigation carried out in two regions of Ghana exposes the current abysmal level of attention given to the indigenous languages in the schools in the cosmopolitan areas especially. It argues that the neglect of the indigenous languages might result in a communication gap between the non-English speakers and the educated, English-speaking elite who tend to represent the former group in government. This situation in turn could impede economic development and the democratic process as the voices of the marginalized non-English speakers would not be fully represented in governance. Similarly, the language shifts that the education system tends to promote, in the long term could result in the endangerment or near extinction of the local languages and the indigenous knowledge embodied in them.  The paper ends with recommendations towards addressing the challenges associated with the implementation of the 2004 language policy in education.

Author Biography

Akosua Anyidoho, University of Ghana

Akosua Anyidoho was a faculty member of the Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana, for many years until her retirement. She is now the Director of New York University-Accra. Her research interests include language in education in multilingual Africa, second language teaching and learning, language and gender, and women’s verbal art forms.


Ansah, G. N. 2014. “Re-examining the fluctuations in language-in-education
policies in post-independence Ghana.” Multilingual Education 4:12.
Anyidoho, Akosua. 2004. “English-only medium of instruction?” Legon Journal of Humanities XV: 81-97.
Anyidoho, Akosua and Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu. 2008. “Indigenous Languages,
English and an Emerging National Identity.” In Language and National Identity in Africa, edited by Andrew Simpson. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Anyidoho, Akosua and Nana Akua Anyidoho. 2009. “Ideological and political
considerations in the choice of school language.” In Supplement of Research Review, edited by M.E. Dakubu and A. A. Ampofo, 9: 9-34. Institute of African Studies.
Boadi, Lawrence. 1976. “Mother Tongue Education in Ghana.” In Mother Tongue
Education: The West African Experience, edited by Ayo Bamgbose, 83-112. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
“Brief Report on the National Literacy Acceleration Programme.” Undated and
unpublished document obtained from the GES head office in Accra in June 2011.
Budu-Smith, John. “Reminder on the policy of the use of Ghanaian language as the
medium of instruction in Primary 1– 3 Schools.” (Unpublished letter dated January 29, 2001, obtained from the GES head office in Accra.)
Budu-Smith, John. “The implementation of the New Ghanaian Language Policy.”
(Unpublished letter dated August 6, 2002, obtained from the GES head office in Accra.)
Dakubu, M. E. Kropp and Florence Dolphyne. Eds. 1988. Languages of Ghana.
London: Kegan Paul International.
Dorvlo, Kofi. 2011. “Language use in education in Minority language areas: The case
of Logba.” In Identity Meets Nationality: Voices in the Humanities, edited by Helen Lauer, Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Jemina Asabea Anderson, 100–111. Accra: Sub-Saharan Publishers.
Markin-Yankah, Marian. 1999. “Language Policy in Basic Education- An Assessment
of its Implementation in the Shama-Ahanta East District.” M.Phil. thesis, Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana, Legon.
McWilliam, H.O.A. and M.A. Kwamena-Poh. 1975. The Development of Education
in Ghana. London: Longman Group.
Nkansa-Kyeremateng, K. 1996. History, Mission and Achievements: The
Presbyterian Church, Ghana. Accra: Sebewie Publishers.
Nyamekye, Kwabena. “Opening address at National Education Assessment Trainer of
Trainers Test Administration and Monitoring Training Workshop.” Speech delivered at a Ghana Education workshop held in Ho, June 2011.
Owu-Ewie, C. 2006. “The language policy of education in Ghana: a critical look at the English-only language policy of education.” In Selected Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, edited by J. Mugane, 76-85. MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
Report to the Minister on the first School of Languages Conference (SOLCON 1)
held at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) Conference Facility, University of Ghana, from 27th to 29th October, 2015. Theme: ‘Multilingualism in the African Context: A Challenge or Resource?’
Simons, G. F. and C.D. Fennig, eds. 2018. Ethnologue: Languages of the World,
Twenty-first edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:
Webb, Vic. 2002. Languages in South Africa: the role of language in national
transformation, reconstruction and development. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
White Paper on the Report of the Education Review Committee chaired by J.
Anamoah Mensah, dated 2004.




How to Cite

Anyidoho, A. (2018). Shifting Sands: Language Policies in Education in Ghana And Implementation Challenges. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 7(2), 225–243. Retrieved from