The question of which language to best instruct children in during their formal education is a long-standing debate in Nigeria, and across Africa.
Research carried out in African and non-African contexts has clearly shown that children learn best in a language they understand and speak fluently. Learning in such a language environment carries significant cognitive, socio-emotional and cultural benefits. In a linguistically complex environment like Nigeria, what is the best language policy for supporting and enhancing student learning? What are the language solutions that will provide real quality education to Nigerian children, giving them the knowledge and skills they need for economic well-being and lifelong learning?
In order to answer some of these questions, British Council, in partnership with UNICEF, is conducting a research into the impact of language of instruction policy and practice on student learning outcomes in Nigeria. The first part of the research is a literature review of the current situation, drawing on the experience of academics, policy makers and programme implementers across the country.
This research builds on the British Council’s Language Policy Dialogues, which started in 2016 in Nigeria and bring together experts in the field of language use in the classroom. Working with other international development partners, the Language Policy Dialogues have provided a regular forum for a community of practice to debate the latest evidence from programme implementation, strategies that can develop best practice, and how to best work with government at all levels to scale these up.