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Research Seminar on Language and Education in East Africa

Text Box: Dr. Jayne Mutiga, University of Nairobi; Dr. Grace Bunyi, Kenyatta University; Dr. Margaret Muthwii, United Bible Societies; Mr. John Ommani, BTL and Dr. Angelina Kioko, US International University

(FEBRUARY 2006) Sixteen Kenyan academics and development specialists displayed their strong interest in the research of the languages and education in East Africa by participating in a one-day seminar held on 2 February in Nairobi, Kenya. The event was sponsored by the Center for Literacy and Language Development, a Kenyan nongovernmental organization and SIL Africa Area staff.

The participants included researchers and scholars in applied linguistics, African languages and education from four of the most prestigious universities in Kenya, representatives of the Kenyan government’s Department of Adult Education, UNESCO personnel, and representatives of other nongovernmental organizations working in fields related to language and education in Kenya.

Text Box: Dr. Angelina Kioko, US International University and Dr. Bonny Norton, University of British Columbia, plenary speakerThe seminar provided a forum for these education scholars and researchers to engage in an exchange of experiences and research findings regarding language issues in Kenya.

Plenary speaker Professor Bonny Norton, of the University of British Columbia, presented research on literacy practices and health in Uganda. Each seminar participant also had the opportunity to present his or her own current research interests and publications.

Text Box: Conference co-sponsor Cyrus Murage, director of CELLADEV and Mr. John Mwiseghe, UNESCO Nairobi education officeA significant degree of agreement was expressed among the participants in support of the use of the mother tongue in formal and non-formal education contexts in Kenya. The participants also expressed concern about the profound difficulties that rural Kenyan children experience in primary school, related to their inability to understand the languages of schooling: English or Swahili.

An important long-term result of this meeting was the decision to maintain and expand the professional network which was begun at the seminar, and to improve the sharing of relevant information among African researchers in language and education.

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