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<email@example.com> Thanks to Victor Kazembe Kawanga for sharing his experience with Zambian languages and education in Zambia. Having only recently looked in earnest at the question of the ways African languages are treated in schools, and in particular the ways that students are discouraged from using or taking an interest in them, it seems like a subject that is not often discussed. So it is hard to tell whether the anecdotes that one does hear or read about punishments for speaking African languages portray the full extent of the problem, or are indicative of a lot more shaming and even corporal punishment that is still going on but not reported. Some of what one reads actually relates to abuses in the past. A description in a Gambian paper is typical: "If children, even by mistake, uttered a few words in their mother tongues, they were beaten, mocked and sometimes suspended from schools. Otherwise, they are made to wear awkward symbols of shame. The colonial language reigned supreme at the expense of indigenous languages."/1 Considering that today there is a lot more discussion of mother tongue/bilingual education in Africa, and that in some cases teachers bend the English- or French-only rules to explain difficult concepts in students' first (or more familiar) languages, does this mean that the worst is actually history? On the other hand, there always seem to be rationales for stopping children from speaking their mother tongue "for their own good" - even by parents. In Uganda for instance, a news item mentioned "families where children are beaten because they speak native languages."/2 So I'm still interested to know to what extent the punishment of children - at school and even at home - for speaking African languages is still practiced. Or perhaps more to the point, if anyone has researched this topic in Africa. 1. Demba Ceesay, "Language And Literacy - Tools of Repression Or Freedom?" The Daily Observer (Banjul), 10 June 2007 http://allafrica.com/stories/200706111286.html 2. "Parents urged to promote African languages" Ultimate Media, September 20, 2006 http://www.blackchat.co.uk/theblackforum/forum37/23612.html#p355205