What language in education? Implications for internal minorities and social cohesion in federal Ethiopia
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The protection of language rights and linguistic groups is the cornerstone of the constitutional dispensation that Ethiopian has embarked upon almost two decades ago. The constitution declares that all Ethiopian language shall enjoy equal state recognition and allows for regional preference in language use. This article examines the laws and policies that regulate the use of languages in education and investigates their implication for the recognition of cultural diversity, accommodation of internal minorities and the promotion of social cohesion. In many aspects, the article argues, the language in education policy and the practice thereof represent an extension of the constitutional commitment to the equality of all language groups. The country has managed to develop a system that accommodates the demands of the different linguistic groups in areas of education. At the same time, it is problematic that the change in policy towards local languages is not accompanied by an equal appreciation of the role that Amharic continues to play, both as language of the federal government and as a means of national communication.