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This study is an exploration of the relationship between the education choices made by the members of three minority language communities of the Northwest Province of Cameroon, and maintenance of the mother tongues of those communities. In each of these three language communities, mother-tongue development initiatives—including a mother-tongue primary education programme—have been operating for more than ten years. Response to these initiatives has had ramifications for uses of the mother tongue in those communities, in both written and oral form.
The research which informs this study was carried out from September 2002-August 2003 in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. The study utilises document analysis, observational data and data from an array of interviews to investigate the nature of the relationship between language and education among the Bafut, Kom and Nso' language communities of Northwest Province. That relationship is elucidated in multiple strands of investigation: an examination of the history of language and education among the Bafut, Kom and Nso' communities; an analysis of the ways in which the local language is currently used among language community members, in both its oral and written forms; and an examination of the individual and institutional stakeholders that influence use of the local language in the communities and in the primary school classrooms.
The investigation results in several observations regarding the elements of an African minority language environment which contribute to sustainable language development, particularly through language-related choices in the primary school. The research findings also argue for the pivotal importance of local choice in shaping both educational trends and language use patterns.
In the interest of making this work available without further delay, we are posting it as it was accepted by the institution that granted the degree without further peer review.