The University of Iowa

“The economics of language of instruction in Africa – an example from Tanzania” Oct. 25

October 19th, 2010

Presenter: Fungisai Nota (Wartburg College)
Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 25, 12-1 p.m.
Location: 315 Phillips Hall

Official languages are one of the main lingering legacies of colonialism in Africa. Education at almost all levels is administered in the official languages that only a small percentage of the population can write and speak fluently. This fact creates bottle-necks that allow only a small percentage of the population to become part of an educated labor-force. Therefore, the goal of this research is to investigate the impact of using official languages as languages of instruction on economic development in Africa. We have chosen Tanzania for our research partly because of our familiarity with this country and also because it has been possible to find valuable data from the Tanzania Ministry of Education website. This research explores the short-run and long-run opportunity costs of continuing the colonial legacy in the field of education by using a foreign language as the language of instruction. We hope to offer policy suggestions that could broaden the educated base and foster economic growth and development. While there has been some research into the costs of designing and publishing learning material and textbooks in local languages, there is hardly any thinking, let alone research, on the costs involved in having millions of school-children in Africa repeating classes, dropping out of school or sitting year after year in schools where they get low grades and learn nothing else than self depreciation.

Dr. Nota has taught at Wartburg College since 2008 and is also a visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Northern Iowa. He has an undergraduate degree in business, economics and finance from Simpson College (2004), a Master of Science degree in Economics from Iowa State University (2005) and a PhD in Applied Economics and Statistics from the University of Nevada, Reno (2008). In 2007 he won the state of Nevada’s Thornton Peace Prize for his research and community involvement in promoting peace. His research interests include: development economics; public finance, environmental economics, peace and conflict resolution, to mention a few. Dr. Nota has published in the Economics of Peace and Security Journal, Encyclopedia of Geography and is a board member for two non-profit organizations. He has and continues to present his ongoing research at regional and international conferences in the field of economics. His prior experiences include working for Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, ConAgra Foods and AIDS Care Group (a non-profit organization in Philadelphia, PA).

This lecture is part of the African Studies Program Baraza series.