Saturday, June 10, 2017


Dear prof Ugwanyi,
Thank you for this post in which you itemize these important ideas about the language issue that hinders our ability to believe in our capacity in producing transformative knowledge and science in Africa.
I am completing the same ideas at hand right now (in French) and think that under the banner of your Centre or the University of Abuja we should get together and mutualize these thoughts for the benefit of our continent.
If this suggestion meets your perspective, we could continue with the discussion off-list.
Dr Emery Patrick EFFIBOLEY
Assistant Professor, 
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Abomey-Calavi 
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg,(2014-2016)

De : 'ugwuanyi Lawrence' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <>
À : Usaafricadialogue <>
Envoyé le : Vendredi 9 juin 2017 12h21

"Findings based on science have come to the conclusion that using another person's language to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics is dangerous – dangerous - to our children, and to us adults too
I itemize below, many reasons why this is the case:
1.       Our students, no matter how much they try, are at least five years behind those students who were taught in their native language.
2.       His level of understanding of the subject matter is significantly less than a child who is probably five years younger in the first place.
3.       Much knowledge of the surroundings is not transmitted to the child. This means that he may never know the use values or even the names of the plants and animals within his locality.
4.       Much knowledge about the the universe is not transmitted to the child. This means that the child is not exposed to the wonders of the heavens and things under the sea. Since he cannot receive the information till he learns a foreign language, he has very little chance of learning them at all.
5.       The level of appreciation of science and scientific reasoning is affected by the lateness in grasping scienctific methods. A mind already polluted with superstitious ideas cannot easily shed primitive ideas. For example, a Nigerian child may actually believe that money can come from human body parts – a la Africa Magic.
6.       The level of retention of the subject matter is much less – as much as 50% - over a period of one year compared with a child who was taught in his own language. This means that the student who is taught in a foreign language easily forgets what he learned.
7.       The use value of science and technology is much, much diminished in a child who leaned science and technology in a foreign language.
8.       The child is more likely prefer foreign things, materials, etc. to local things even when those local things are of better quality. This means he will prefer apples to mangoes.
9.       The child is more likely to think that his own language is inferior to the language with which he is being taught.  This inferiority carries on to adulthood.
10.   He child is more likely to think that the person in whose language he is learning is superior to him. This also carries to adulthood.
The disadvantages of not learning science and technology in our own language manifest themselves in adulthood. They affect the way we think and the way we see ourselves. They affect our creative abilities and ability to compete on the global stage. They affect our ability to become a technlogical society. In which case we cannot use science and technology to industrialize and create wealth.
It is therefore obviously evident that learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics in another person's language is dangerous to our existence."

This is an important observation.Perhaps more important than we may take it to be.

It is not just dangerous to our children alone  but to a great extent adults as well.

Ngugi 's book entitled  Decolonising the Mind discusses this issue very comprehensively.

I would even prefer to locate the source of the deepening crisis of African modernity which I would prefer to call medieval modernity from this angle.

Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi,Ph.D
Professor of African Philosophy and Thought
Department of Philosophy and Religions
University of Abuja
Founder:Centre for Critical Thinking and Resourceful Research in Africa(


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