Ghana language-in-education policy: The survival of two South Guan minority dialects

  • Mercy Akrofi Ansah University of Ghana
  • Nana Ama Agyeman UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
Keywords: language policy, Ghana language policy, Leteh, Efutu


The paper investigates the survival of two South-Guan minority dialects, Leteh and Efutu, in the context of the Ghana language-in-education policy. The study is done from the perspective of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Linguistic Rights (1996). In every multilingual state, the formulation of policies concerning language use has always presented challenges. The government has to decide which of the languages need to be promoted and for what purposes. In Ghana, since the introduction of formal education, English has indubitably been the language of education, trade, law, media, government and administration. However, there has always been a debate surrounding the language-in-education policy, especially at the basic level of education. The argument has always been whether English should be emphasised or Ghanaian languages. For purposes of formal education, the government of Ghana has promoted nine languages known as government-sponsored languages. These are languages which have literary tradition and can be used as media of instruction in schools. This decision was to the detriment of some Ghanaian languages; languages which are often described as minority languages, and which are not government-sponsored. The paper argues that, if language and culture are intertwined, and the culture of a people must be preserved, then language policymakers need to consider the linguistic rights of speakers of the so-called minority languages. Data for the study were sourced from language surveys and observation.

Author Biographies

Mercy Akrofi Ansah, University of Ghana
Mercy Akrofi Ansah is a research fellow of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. She did her doctoral studies in Linguistics at the University of Manchester, UK. Her research interests are the following: documenting and describing less-studied languages; language use in multilingual communities; and adult functional literacy. She has a number of publications in these areas in local and international journals. She is a fellow (F’11) of the American Council for Learned Societies. She is a member of the Linguistics Association of Ghana; Association of African Studies of Africa; Association of Contemporary African Linguistics
Nana Ama Agyeman holds a BA degree in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of Ghana and an MPhil degree in Linguistics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She is currently working towards the completion of her PhD in Linguistics at SOAS, University of London. Her PhD research is on documentation and description of Efutu language (Niger-Congo, Kwa, Guan), southern Ghana. Her PhD thesis presents a descriptive grammar of Efutu with a focus on serial verb constructions. She has been working at the Language Centre of the University of Ghana since 2003.