Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Politics of Mother Language Policy in Eritrea

Dr. Tekle Woldemikael.

In 1991, the newly formed government of Eritrea started a national educational policy centred on the use of mother languages as medium of instructions in all public schools. The stated purpose of the policy was to foster national unity, identity and respecting cultural diversity. It was based on the philosophy of promoting multilingualism, preservation of minority languages and enhancement of multilingualism in Eritrea. I examine the strategies the policy makers have followed to mobilize support for their plans and how handled the conflicting demands of various linguistic groups in Eritrea. I also examine the political goals that are achieved beyond the stated human rights goals of the policy makers. Language policy is one mechanism for locating languages within the social structure. Since language determines who has access to political power and economic resources, I will explore the language groups that are able to establish hegemony in language use and as result in gaining political and economic power and why.


Dr. Tekle Woldemikael  (United States)
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Redlands

Tekle Woldemikael
is a chair and Associate Professor of Department of Sociology and Anthropology

  • Multilingualism
  • Mother language policy
  • Power and language

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)