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70 | 2015
Les langues d’enseignement, un enjeu politique

Languages of instruction: a political issue
Las lenguas de enseñanza, una cuestión política
Edited by Daniel Coste and Abdeljalil Akkari

Why is Basque-language teaching on the increase in the Spanish Basque Country? Is Malay still spoken in Singapore? Who studies in French in modern-day Algeria? Is the Estonian language under threat in Estonia? Why has France not ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages? And, in India, why do parents choose English-language schooling for their children?
These are some of the questions that emerge from the reading of Issue 70 of the Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres, which focuses on the choice of languages of instruction. They show that this choice is clearly an eminently political one, which goes well beyond the scope of educational policies alone.
The 10 studies in this dossier cover contexts as diverse as Algeria, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, Estonia, France, India, Paraguay, the Spanish Basque Country, Singapore, and Council of Europe policy.
They reveal that, today, the choice of language of instruction is no longer the prerogative of public authorities and official policies alone. It is also influenced by multiple factors and actors, which, to varying degrees, depending on the context, manifest their support for a common policy or, on the contrary, seek to circumvent it.
Groups with diverse interests deploy strategies of social differentiation in order to respond to the issues of the modern-day world: employability and occupational mobility; the obligation to produce results; the privatization and diversification of training provision; or identity affirmation and the recognition of minority languages in school systems.
Around the world, the influx of new actors in debates – whether they be regional-level public authorities, parents, or international organizations – is producing change, including within education systems.