Language Policy and Conflict as Learning Barriers: The Plight of Linguistic Minority Schoolchildren in Darfur, Sudan

Abdelrahim Hamid Mugaddam, Dhahawi Salih Ali Garri, Abdelbasit Alnour


This paper investigates learning difficulties of the linguistic minority schoolchildren (LMS) in Darfur, Sudan, in the contexts of the current conflict and the official monolingual policy. Employing quantitative and qualitative data gathering tools, we examined how the LMS at the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps were educationally disadvantaged due to their low proficiency in Arabic, curricula developed insensitively to their identities and cultures, and how parents and teachers perceived of teaching the children in Arabic as the sole medium of instruction. The study concluded that monolingualism in education resulted in the underachievement of the IDPs schoolchildren; the vast majority of the parents and a great number of teachers believed the children could have achieved better had the teachers used, besides Arabic, native languages in teaching; and that learning of the children could be improved if their ethnic identities and cultures were integrated in curricula. Preferences of teaching the children in Arabic among the parents were primarily attributed to the current conflict, which gave rise to the revitalisation of native languages in Darfur. The teachers’ preferences thereof, however, differed – crudely traceable between one group of monolingual supporters whose perceptions were informed by their internalised state ideology of Arabicisation and another group of multilingual proponents whose viewpoints were derived from the trendy approaches favouring multilingualism in education. The findings also suggested that the government deliberately distanced itself from taking remedial interventions to mitigate the underachievement of the children with the expectation the displacement would expedite their linguistic and cultural assimilation, which have not only rendered them the most linguistically disenfranchised children in Sudan, but created the most profound de facto government language policy of its kind as well.

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World Journal of Education
ISSN 1925-0746(Print)  ISSN 1925-0754(Online)

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