Multilingual Education
A special session at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Conference

Abstract for "Language, Non-formal Education, and Political Identity: A Comparative Study"

Andrea Clemons, Ph.D., University of Southern California
Eva Gerente, Ph.D., University of Texas at Arlington

This paper will examine the relationship between nonformal education*, local language education, and citizenship as it impacts rural and urban enclaves in Senegal and Guinea (Conakry). More specifically, we will explore the relationship between nonformal education models that use mother tongue instruction and civic participation. We will use a review of the literature as a preliminary inquiry into the role of education officials and participants active in nonformal, native language programs in Senegal and Guinea. Besides investigating the national contexts of native language nonformal education and political identity, our comparison will allow for a rare comparison of two former French colonies in a post-colonial context. This research will contribute to the knowledge base of educational scholars and social scientists active in shaping language-in-education policies and practices. In so doing, this work may also provide a foundation for further ethnographic examinations that may inform a reconceptualization of how the language of instruction in nonformal education models in specific contexts contributes to the development of citizenship and civic identity.


*Kinsey et al define nonformal education as “…those programs that are not by the government to grant diplomas or degrees recognized in the formal school system” (1990. p. 23). The nonformal education programs to which we will be referring are those intended to impart basic literacy and numeracy skills through instructional in local languages and targeted towards urban and rural children and adults who have been historically left out of the formal educational system.