Teaching and Learning (Language) at a Distance in a Multilingual context: Issues and Challenges

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

The importance of language in literacy for the development of a nation cannot be overemphasized, because language is central to access learning. According to Obanya (2004 p.234), “Human development through Education seeks to reinforce the individual’s capacity to perform the essentially human functions…This is what makes language the major object and subject of Education”. Language literacy is crucial for increased participation in a world that has transformed from industry- based economy to a knowledge- based economy. The laudable goal of Education for all (EFA) by 2015 being facilitated by UNESCO is a clear indication that education has come to be viewed as not the preserve of a few, but the right of every individual regardless of the country of origin. The E-9 initiative by UNESCO comprising countries that account for 60% of the world’s population, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults attests to the relationship between literacy and development. That Nigeria (others are Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Pakistan) happens to be a member of this group of nations underscores the importance of the language in literacy issues which form the focus of this paper. As noted by Obanya (2004 p.231), Nigeria is unique in that she differs from other African countries in terms of population and physical size, the level of multilingualism. How Nigeria has handled the language issue in the light of these characteristics should prove worthwhile for other multilingual nations in terms of lessons learned for the ultimate goal of creating access to learning for development. // The paper begins by examining the role of language in literacy; Nigeria’s demographic and literacy profile as a background to examining the implications of the language policy on multilingualism, language curriculum, teacher development as factors for access to learning. The potential contributions of ODL to literacy efforts are examined and two examples that model the issues discussed earlier are presented. // Paper ID 456

Open and Distance Learning (ODL)