Language Policy of Education and National Identity in Ethiopia

Academic Paper, 2019

117 Pages






Chapter 1.The concept of nation-building
Elements of Successful Nation-building
Unifying and persuasive ideology
Integration of society
Functional State Apparatus
Importance of Building National Identity
Language Policy and National Identity
Language as an instrument of communication / information
Language as an emblem of identity
Language as a sign of recognition and inclusion
Language Planning
Monolingual policies
Multilingual Language policies
Education and National Identity

Language Policy of Education and National Identity during the Imperial System of Governance, (1941-74)
Language Policy of Education and National Identity during the Socialist System of Governance (1974-1991)
Language Discrimination
Impact of Language Discrimination
Coping with Language Discrimination

Use of Nationality Languages as a Medium of Instruction
Limitations of Mother Tongue Instruction
Limitation on mobility
Limitation on intergroup relations
The problem of Intergroup Prejudice and discrimination
Amharic as a Language of Countrywide Communication (Lingua franca)
Nationality Language for Cultural Relations
Importance of Learning Nationality Languages to National Identity
English as a Medium of Instruction for Secondary and Higher Education

4.1. Conclusions




Ethiopia is a multilingual and multicultural country with over 84 ethnic groups and languages. The most widely spoken languages include Afan Oromo (official working language in the State of Oromiya) 33.8 percent, Amharic ( national language) 29.3%, Somali (official working language of the State of Somali) 6.2 percent, Tigrigna (official working language of the State of Tigray) 5.9 percent, Sidama 4 percent, Wolaytta 2.2 percent, Gurage 2 percent, Afar (official working language of the State of Afar) 1.7 percent, Hadiyya 1.7 percent, Gamo 1.5 percent, Gedeo 1.3 percent, and Kafa 1.1 percent (CIA World Factbook , 2017).

Managing linguistic diversity in such a multilingual country is an integral part of a nation-building process. Failure to do so will result in instability, civil wars and disintegration of the country. The history of Ethiopia shows that language policy, political movements and civil wars are closely related. For instance, the question of language identity was one of the reasons for the 1960's anti-government movement by university students and people from all walks of life. The different ethnic groups had felt that the language policy of the time was discriminatory. According to Aragawi (2008), Tigrean University students of the 1960s first articulated ethnic resistance against the imperial regime. One of the factors that aggravated ethno-nationalist sentiments among the young Tigrean students was the banning of Tigray language in the region. Aragawi (2008) describes this as “the most painful act of the State” (p.71). This discriminatory policy of the State contributed to the onset of armed struggle by the Tigrean people. The Tigrean revolt was a pacesetter as other armed ethnic-based political parties like Sidama People Movement, Oromo Liberation Front and others also demanded the recognition of their (linguistic) identities mushroomed in the country. And today, there are over a hundred political parties that are organized based on ethnicity (language).

The pre-1991governments (regimes) in Ethiopia used a monolingual policy to handle language diversity and national integration among the people of the country. Amharic was the only language used for instruction and in government offices. The major reason for the introduction of a monolingual policy was the mistaken belief of the ruling class that using different languages in one country would jeopardize the unity of the country. By this policy, other languages were not encouraged with the intention of safeguarding national integrity. Nevertheless, this language policy was criticized and opposed by many for being discriminatory in favour of Amharic. Homogenization as a strategy of handling diversity and fostering national identity was not effective in both the socialist and imperialist regimes.

The monolingual policy, combined with other provoking factors had given rise to different armed nationalist movements. Some of the nationalist movements like the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) had secessionist agenda, while others like Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and Afar Peoples Liberation Front (ALF), etc had liberation motives. Language related discrimination is the major cause of civil wars in many parts of the world.

The armed struggle of nationalist movements led by Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took over power in 1991. The change of government led to constitutional and policy reforms in the country. For instance, Article 39 of the constitution states, "Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has the right to speak, to write and to develop its language; to express, to develop and to promote its culture; and to preserve its history” (FDRE, 1995, p.96). This constitutional provision was reinforced by reforms in the education system of the country. The educational reforms include a new education policy that approved the use of languages of nationalities as media of instruction. The education and training policy (FDRE, 1994) states two rationales for the introduction of mother tongues as a medium of instruction in primary schools: the pedagogical advantage of learning in a mother tongue, and the rights of nationalities to promote the use of their languages.

However, there are citizens in the country that strongly oppose mother tongue instruction. Some argue that the policy had political motives other than the purported pedagogical motives. The implementation of the language policy prior to its formal declaration justifies the political motives of the policy. For instance, Afan Oromo, Tigray, Wolaitta and Sidama languages were used for instruction beginning in the 1991–92 school years, which is before the ratification of the education and training policy of the country (Alemu &Tekleselassie, 2006). The opponents of the policy attribute the deteriorating quality of education at all levels and depreciated national identity to the language policy. Others consider the policy reform as a measure taken to ensure the political stability of the country and as a resolution of armed ethnic liberation movements rather than genuine interest to students (Rakotondrainy, 2014). Generally, the move is considered as political rather than genuine interest to promote nationalities rights. On the contrary, mother tongue as a medium of instruction has also many proponents. This group argues that the EPRDF language policy enhances the national identity of different ethnolinguistic groups that were previously ignored. Mother tongue as medium of instruction also closes the gap between home and school language, which in return raises the educational performance of respective communities and increase parents commitment to school affairs.

This book is written to provide different perspectives to the opponents and proponents of mother -tongue as a media of instruction. As indicated earlier, the proponents have a limited view of mother-tongue instruction: pedagogical advantages and legal rights (the rights of nationalities to promote the use of their languages). The contributions of the policy to foster national identity are rarely mentioned. The psychological implications of the policy are also seldom recognized. This book, therefore, tries to justify the psychological benefits of mother-tongue instruction and its contribution to the development of national identity. At the same time, the book tries to address some of the problems of mother-tongue instruction that the opponents often emphasize either as a result of the improper implementation or failure to closely monitor and modify some of the articles of the policy. Suggestions are also provided so that the language policy can be used to build a sense of national identity and improve inter-group communication.

The questions that led to the writing of this book are as follows: What language policies were used during the imperial and socialist systems of governance in Ethiopia? What were the contributions of the policies in regards to fostering national identity? How the EPRDF language policy of education is being implemented in the country? Does the introduction of mother tongue instruction (MTI) consolidate the national identity? What should be done so that the policy can meet its objectives of fostering national identity?

I think that writing about national identity in Ethiopia is very critical at this time than ever before. Currently, the country is in continuous crisis. Ethnic-based conflicts are prevalent across the country. Many citizens are victims of relocation and expulsion from certain parts of the country due to their language/ethnic background. Hence, such language-based prejudice and discrimination can be reduced by closely studying about and re-examining the current language policy. This can be realized when scholars in the area forward their proposal of language policy that fosters national identity. Unfortunately, scholars in the country do not dare to engage themselves in sensitive issues like ethnicity, language and religion. Writing about such issues is a very risky business. The issues are easily politicized and mostly taken out of context. On the contrary, good governance, social justice, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence or nation-building cannot be thought of without addressing such elements. I suggest that it is better to say something and take the risk for the sake of a country and its people than keeping silence and watching while the country swims in constant crisis. To prosper, to flourish and outshine, Ethiopia needs all its people with all forms of their diversity. It is the respect of such diversity that builds confidence in oneself and identification with a nation. I end up this part of the book by quoting former President of South Africa: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart” NELSON MANDELA


Yirgalem Alemu


Ethnic fragmentation is a major concern in present-day Ethiopia because of the overwhelming emphasis the government gives to ethnic identity at the detriment of national identity in all its laws and practices. After the downfall of the socialist regime by armed nationalist movements in 1991, Ethiopia drafted a new constitution that emphasizes ethnicity as the building block for administrative divisions. Constitutional provisions paved the way for the sprouting of ethnic-based political parties in the country which currently stands at more than a hundred. These ethnic-based political parties preach ethnic identity instead of national identity. Ethnicity is a determinant factor during political elections. As a result, national identity has been eroded in favour of ethnic identity. Hence, preserving a country's national identity has become a dilemma for the current Ethiopian government.

However, in order to achieve a more unified, stable and organized political structure, the government must unify the total population through its Nation-building activities. The people must be able to remain unified to function properly within a state despite their different ethnic identities. To this end, the role of language planning in the creation of national identity is fundamentally powerful. Language is much more than just a speech. It is a carrier of culture, of individual, community and even national identity. The language of the State carries with it powerful hidden messages about citizenship. It is a signal of who is included in the political community and on what terms (Smith, 2008). Given such importance of language to one's identity, Padilla (1999) concludes that "any threat to a group's language by means of colonization or legislation is a call to arms" (p.116).

Language is also seen as the storehouse of ethnicity. It is often taken as a principal criterion (but not the only one) to classify ethnicity. For instance, German-speaking people in Switzerland are considered as ethnic German, French-speaking communities are considered as ethnic French (Alesina, Easterly, Kurlat, & Wacziarg, 2003). In the Ghanaian context, many ethnic groups are named after the language they speak (for example, Ewe and Akan) (Langer & Ukiwo, 2008). Same is true in Ethiopia where language is taken as a criterion to distinguish ethnic groups. For example, the Oromo ethnic group is named after the language it speaks, and Afan Oromo (Oromo language) is the official working language of the Oromiya Regional State. Harari ethnic group are those people who speak Harari language. The same is true to Afar, Somali, Tigray and others.

Due to its sensitivity, many countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq and 22 sub-Saharan African states including Nigeria and Rwanda constitutionally banned the existence of parties that based ethnicity/language (Obasanjo, 2010; Dovidio , Gaertner, Ufkes, Saguy, & Pearson, 2016;Basedau , Bogaards, Hartmann, and Niesen, 2007; Becher & Basedau, 2008). The justification for this is that ethnicizing the political discourse encourages instability, triggers violence and promotes regional/ethnic identity than national identity (Obasanjo, 2010; Hippler, 2005).

On the contrary, ethnicity is the whole mark of Ethiopian federalism. The regional States are defined on the basis of ethnic/linguistic identity. Many attribute the current instability and violence in Ethiopia to ethnic federalism. Studies indicate that language differences were more associated with civil wars and ethnic conflict than religious differences or material deprivation (Bormann, Cederman, & Vogt, 2017; Ayres, 2003; Safran, 1999). Hence, language is an important variable in the current socio-political dynamics of the Ethiopian society. That is why this book lays emphasis on language as an important ingredient of the nation-building process.

The question of language policy is very important in establishing national identity particularly in multilingual countries like Ethiopia. Many multilingual countries used well-planned language policy of education to foster national identity. Indonesia and Nigeria can be taken as examples. Indonesia is the home of distinct ethnic groups, speaking an estimated 600 languages. The most important factor in the spread of Indonesian as a national language was the development of Indonesia’s educational system and literacy (Paauw, 2009). Ethiopia has a lot to learn from these and other countries as to how to plan and use language in its nation-building process.

Nation-building is simply creating communities that communicate, understand and respect each other. In this regard, language as a means of communication plays a significant role. In Ethiopia, managing language diversity is an integral part of the nation-building process. Failure to do so endangers national identity and territorial integrity. Although language is not the only actor for national identity formation and/or the formation of separatist ideology like the Eritrean revolution, it plays a key role.

It is important to be clear about the focus areas of this book. The book can be considered incomplete with respect to the broad normative dimensions of education and language policy. First, although language policy concerns many areas as indicated above, one of the most critical and controversial areas for the politics of language is in the education sector. Mostly, language policy is commonly understood by citizens primarily as an issue of the language of instruction in schools. Therefore, the book focuses on language policies of education. There are concerns that for a multilingual country that has over 80 ethnolinguistic groups there is only one working language for the federal government. This is contrary to language policies of multilingual countries like South Africa where there are more than ten languages in use for the federal government. Although this issue could be one factor that plays a role to strengthen or weaken national unity, it is not the emphasis of the present book.

Second, the book focuses only on the language aspect of the education policy. The contents, curriculum, management, strategies and other aspects of the education policy are not addressed. This is made for the reason that language is the medium through which the contents of ethnicity, culture and identity of a group is formed and transmitted to its offspring. Language in education, therefore, is not only a medium of instruction but also a symbol of identity. Third, the book emphasizes nationalities /domestic language use of the policy than international languages. The reason for such emphasis is that the languages of nationalities have more significance to national identity than international languages.

This book is based on the analysis of policy documents that are pertinent to the purpose of the book. The 1994 Education and Training policy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) was considered the major source of information on the current language policy of the country. Other sources of information include wide ranges of academic writings (journal articles, monographs, conference proceedings, etc).To supplement the information obtained from the above sources, the writer's personal observations and informal meetings held with people in the educational sector and policymakers were included. Sections and statements in the policy pertaining to language use were considered as units of analysis.

The book is organized into four chapters. The first chapter talks about the concept of nation-building and the role of language in nation-building. It defines a nation, nation-building, elements in nation-building process and national identity. This part also discusses the close relationship between language policy and nation-building. The second chapter of the book deals with the language policy of education during the imperialist and socialist systems of governance. In this part, the intended and unintended consequences of language policies of the times are discussed in relation to nation-building attempts of the regimes. Chapter three is all about language policy of education in post-1991 Ethiopia. It discusses issues of mother-tongue instruction, languages of nationalities for cultural communication, Amharic as a language for countrywide communication and English as a language for international communication. This part also discusses how the policies contribute to nation-building and how they are being implemented in the country. The last chapter contains conclusions and recommendations. The conclusion discusses the consequences of language policies of Ethiopia in relation to nation-building attempts since the introduction of modern education. This section concludes that language is one of the ignored element in the process of nation-building attempts in the past and present governments of Ethiopia. The recommendation section suggests ways of enhancing the nation-building process by using language as an entry point. It recommends that language can be used as a tool by which people in a certain country can communicate with their in-group and out-group members, express their feelings to each other using different languages with confidence and pride, and strive for the common good.

Chapter 1.The concept of nation-building

Many people use the terms nation, state, and country interchangeably even though there are differences in meaning among them. Therefore, before defining what nation-building is all about, it seems necessary to begin by discussing the differences between a nation, a state, and a country. In fact, defining the term nation often remains fluid and ambiguous to many writers. Even though most definitions agree on the elements of a common territory and geographical location, they often disagree on the importance of having a common language. For instance, Stalin (1931, cited in Gerda, 1993) includes language in his definition of a nation. According to him, if people share the same language, culture, psychological make-up, geographical territory, and economic system, then they qualify to be a nation capable of self-determination. On the other hand, Smith (1991) defines a nation as "a named human population sharing historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members" (p. 14). Smith's definition of a nation excludes language homogeneity which was historically assumed to be synonymous to a nation. When a nation of people has an independent State of their own it is often called a nation-state (Olson, 2019). For example, Oromo in Ethiopia is a nation without a State and Ethiopia is a State with several nations in it.

On the other hand, country and State are synonymous terms that both apply to self-governing and sovereign political entities. A nation, however, is a group of people who share the same culture but do not have sovereignty (Olson, 2019; Jones, 1964). Olson (2019) mentions the following criteria for a certain region or geographical area to be called an independent State or a country:

- Has internationally recognized land and borders even if border disputes exist;
- Has permanent inhabitants;
- Has sovereignty so that no other country has authority over its territory;
- Has organized economic activity that regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money;
- Has a transportation network for moving goods and people;
- Has an education system;
- Has recognition from other sovereign States.

If certain nations or ethnic groups are not satisfied with the political system of a State, ethnic identity or as some call it ethnic nationalism is likely to be fabricated. Ethnic nationalism is apolitical, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of particular ethnic groups and happens when ethnic loyalties supersede loyalty to the country as a whole (Collier, 2009; De Cew, 2008; Jones, 1964). Ethnic nationalism also refers to the attitude that members of an ethnic group have when they think of themselves in terms of members of the ethnic group, and the actions they take when they seek to guarantee self-determination of the nation (De Cew, 2008). Such behaviour is manifested when people act more trustworthy when they interact with persons of the same ethnic groups and less trustworthy when they interact with persons of different ethnic groups (Glaeser et al., 2000).

To curb problems associated with ethnic fractionalization, nation-building activities have been proposed as a possible remedy. Nation-building is described as a process of creating a national community through the political amalgamation of its members (Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013). It is also defined as a process of unifying the population of a country by constructing a national identity where people feel and are bound together by a sense of community and cohesion, and where people talk to, understand, and trust one another (Ahlerup & Hansson, 2011). Similarly, Miguel (2004) defines nation-building as the creation of a common national identity, as opposed to a tribal or regional identity.

National identity is very often considered as the end result of a successful nation-building process (De Cew, 2008). National identity or civic nationalism (as opposed to ethnic nationalism) defines the State in terms of shared citizenship, shared values and institutions, and is linked to constitutional patriotism. It is a common practice for some scholars such as Bandyopadhyay and Green (2009) and Ojo (2009) to use concepts such as nation-building, national cohesion, national unity, and national integration in a more or less similar way and interchangeably. Other scholars such as DeCew (2008) consider national unity, national cohesion or national identity as the end result, rather than the process, of a successful nation-building process.

In this book, terms like national identity, nation-building, national integration, and national cohesion are used interchangeably. The concepts are used to refer to people’s sense of belonging, feeling of patriotism, solidarity, and loyalty to one’s country. It also refers to the process of unifying citizens of a given country so that they talk to, understand, and respect each other. Consequently, governments need to have visionary policies and systems to make sure that all people feel very patriotic and proud of their country.

Elements of Successful Nation-building

Nation-building is not a one-time activity; it is rather continuous and dynamic. In the process of building a nation, politicians and policymakers take different strategies. Hippler (2005) identifies three interlinked and central elements of successful nation-building: a unifying and persuasive ideology, integration of society, and a functional state apparatus. In the following sections, these three elements are discussed in relation to the Ethiopian nation-building processes of the past and the present.

Unifying and persuasive ideology

Woolard (1992, 1998) defined ideology as governing or subsidiary “ideas, discourse, or signifying practices in the service of the struggle to acquire or maintain power” (p. 7). According to him, nation-building will only be successful in the long term if it stems from an "integrative ideology" (p.7). In the current political system of Ethiopia, ethnic federalism is considered as a unifying ideology of nation-building. Ethnicity has been given high emphasis. Article 46 of the constitution of FDRE (1995) affirms that the States of the federation are delimited based on identity. Although the constitution does not clearly use ethnolinguistic identity to describe the States of the federation, the naming of the federal states like Harari Peoples Regional State, Afar Peoples Regional State, etc indicates that the identity taken to classify regional States is ethnic identity. "Tigray", "Afar", "Amhara", "Oromiya", and "Somali" are all names of ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The other instance that reflects the Ethiopian government's high emphasis on ethnic identity is the way the Constitutions worded. The preamble of the constitution begins with, "We, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia" (FDRE, 1995, P.1). This makes the preamble of the Ethiopian constitution unique. Most constitutions in the world begin with three keywords "We the People". For example, the Nigerian Constitution begins with We the People of Nigeria, Ghanian Constitution begins with We the People of Ghana, Indian Constitution begins with We the People of India, etc.

Critics argue that considering ethnolinguistic identity as an integrative ideology of nation-building is immature and ineffective to national integration. Such ideology of nation-building leads to tribalism that threatens democracy, social cohesion and at large national identity. Regionalism or tribalism is not nation-building. If people define themselves in as Amhara, Oromo, Gurage, or members of another particular ethnic group, nation-building has either not been accomplished or has failed. It should be noted that the existence and identification of a certain social group is not a problem by itself. However, as long as the primary loyalty lies within the ethnic group, and national identity remains subsidiary or is missing, and a country will continue to be unstable (Hippler, 2005).

Ethnolinguistic identity is a very sensitive issue. Creation of sub-States based on such sensitive identity marker is very dangerous for peaceful co-existence and national identity of the people. Different countries use different forms of federalism. However, most of them avoid the creation of federalism on the basis of sensitive identity markers like language, ethnicity and religion. For instance, in India, the Linguistic Provinces Commission (also known as the Dhar Commission) was appointed in 1948 to make recommendations about the creation of States. The commission reported its concern that an over-emphasis of language would fuel sub-nationalism, encourage instability and prevent India from moving into modernity. It only serves as "a recipe to undermine Indian nationalism" (Report of the Linguistic Provinces Commission, 1948, 13, cited in Villiers, 2012).In a similar vein; the Nigerian constitution discourages sensitive identity-based federalism. Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in his address at the 5th International Conference on Federalism, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia stated that all political parties that opt to operate locally or regionally must show full national representation in their structures, management and operations. In other words, political parties should be inclusive of different ethnic groups and representative of the national population. The rationale of avoiding purely ethnic or regional parties is that they rely on narrow sentiments that may cause disaffection and instability of the country (Obasanjo, 2010, p. 50).

Countries with histories of conflict also discourage party organizations based on identities. For example, the constitution of Rwanda that was adopted after the 1994 genocide prohibits political organizations based on "race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination." (Dovidio et al., 2016, p.34).Likewise, countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq and 22 sub-Saharan African states constitutionally banned the existence of ethnic parties (Ishiyama & Breuning, 1998; Basedau, Bogaards, Hartmann, & Niesen, 2007; Becher & Basedau, 2008).

Hippler (2005) suggests that belonging to a nation on the basis of language, ethnic origin or religion rather than based on civil equality, has two damaging consequences. First, ethnicizing the political discourse triggers violence which is ethnically structured. Distribution and power conflicts can, for example, be ideologized in an ethnolinguistic way, which further increases the degree of social mobilization and violence. These negative consequences of ethnic federalism as a nation-building ideology have been observed in Ethiopia several times. Ethnic-based violence and border conflicts between different regional states are common in Ethiopia. For instance, as of August 2017, over half a million Oromos were expelled from Ethiopian-Somali regional State because of their ethnic background. Similarly, Charles Stratford reported to Aljazeera in 2016 that thousands of ethnic Tigrayans flee the city of Gonder because their homes and businesses were threatened by ethnic Amhara (Stratford, 2016). There are several instances of such kinds of discriminatory behaviour all over the country.

The second damaging consequence of belonging to a nation based on regional/ethnic identity is that it transforms the nation-building process. That is, instead of striving for or achieving the integration of society as a whole, groups are engaged with their regional identities. Present-Day Ethiopia is a typical example where regional and ethnic identity predominates national identity. The level of ethnocentric thinking is manifested in the naming of some business products and institutions. For example, Amhara Credit and Saving Institution, Oromiya International Bank, Raya Bira, and others. Even football clubs that are assumed to be universal and free from any sorts of bias are named after certain ethnic groups. Examples of these include Hadya Football Club and Wolayta Football Club named after Hadya and Wolayta ethnic groups respectively. In mass gatherings or holidays, people wear or wave regional flags and sing regional anthem than the national one.

Villiers (2012 ) states that the decision to create an ethnic-federation in Ethiopia was not a well-thought idea. It did not have a philosophical scheme. Rather, it was an expression of the realities of politics at the time. According to him during the ratification of the constitutions, there were many armed groups, with mutual mistrust. Each group had a military base and arsenal at its disposal and the experiences with the central government were painful. Similarly, Assefa (2006) argues that because of the fragile situation the country at the time, threatened by various ethnic liberation movements, the establishment of regional governments based on mainly on ethnolinguistic lines ensured the survival of the Ethiopian state. However, the country is still in a state of crisis and instability. This signifies that ethnic federalism as a unifying ideology of nation-building is on a big question mark in Ethiopia.

Integration of society

The second prerequisite for a successful nation-building process, according to Hippler (2005), involves the integration of society from the loosely associated groups that existed previously. In Wright (2000) the term, nation-building is when governments create “communities of communication”. Even though in -group communication of the ethnic groups may remain stronger than out-group communication, a certain degree of close communication among them is a requirement for successful and enduring nation-building. It is only engagement with each other, providing mutual strength, that will decide the success or failure of nation-building (Hippler, 2005).

In regards to creating out-group communication or communication between ethnic groups, the language ideology of the country in the past as well as in the present has not worked very well. The pre1991 rulers of the country followed one nation, one people, one language ideology of language policy. The idea was that people feel oneness and togetherness when they speak a language, hence social integration among the different ethnic groups will be promoted. Nevertheless, this strategy was not successful as different ethnolinguistic groups demanded the recognition of their language as a means of communication. Of course, it is formidable to create societal integration using one language for national communication in a country that is a home of over 80 ethnolinguistics groups.

In a diversified nation, people with different ethnolinguistic identity need to interact positively considering their national identity (without denying their ethnic or religious identity). Tolerance of differences and mutual respect and mutual trust are the basis for unity in diversity (Obasanjo, 2010). Some scholars argue that nation-building is missing in present-day Africa. On the 5thinternational conference on federalism held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, conference participants (Watts, Ihonvbere, Ghai, & Deng, 2010) argue that:

--- if it's for nation-building it means that you will respect the nations and nationalities, the cultures and values of the people, and you build new bridges that promote mutual respect, mutual understanding, interaction and engagement in ways to move forward, not to move backwards. That is what is missing a lot in Africa (Watts et al., 2010, p.63).

Language competence is then central in forming a cohesive society that communicates and interacts with each other. In the current socio-political context of Ethiopia, communication between and among nations and nationalities is becoming difficult. The Ethiopian governments (past and present) gave very little emphasis to language literacy of its people as a tool of creating societal integration.

Though the EPRDF government recognized the languages of ethnolinguistic groups in the country for instruction and administrative purposes, intercultural communication is less emphasized. The EPRDF government focuses on the economy than language as an important instrument to societal integration. The idea is that economic growth, infrastructure development, and equitable distribution of wealth to every ethnic group in the country would bring about national cohesion. The former Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, arguing in favour of the first Growth and Transformation Program (GTP-I) stated that through infrastructural development, the northernmost of the country would be linked to the country's southernmost. Such strategies were believed to encourage societal integration. In fact, transport and communication infrastructures are important elements for economic integration and development of the national economy, but not national integration as thought.

Although the importance of equal distributions of resources to ethnic groups is important, it should not be taken as the only strategy to create national integration. Physical contact through infrastructure development brings neither psychological contact among the nations and nationalities nor peace and stability to the country. Examples are bound to buttress this argument. The socialist government (1974-1991) confiscated land from the landlords and allotted it to the tillers as means of equitable resource distribution. Furthermore, the less privileged, minorities and people from rural areas were given access to formal education. Many other economic reforms that were believed to benefit the masses were carried out. However, the people kept on revolting against the socialist regime. They never gave up for a minute. This simple instance depicts that resource allocation and infrastructure development alone cannot guarantee a cohesive nation or a stable government.

Recent IMF reports indicate the people are economically better off now than during the socialist regime. According to the International monetary fund report, when EPRDF took power in 1991, GDP per capita was only 386.318. The same report indicates that for more than a decade before 2016, Ethiopia grew at a rate between 8-11% annually – one of the fastest-growing states among the 188 IMF member countries. Per capita income is also growing year to year. For example, GDP per capita $$1,900 (2015 est.), 2000 (2016 est.), $2200 (2017 est.) (CIA WorldFactbook, 2019).

These positive economic records could not be translated to bring about peace and stability in the country. The country’s peace index is deteriorating. According to the 2017 Global Peace Index, Ethiopia’s peace deterioration was more than any other country in the world. Ethiopia was ranked 134th among 163 countries. It suffered the biggest decline (16 positions) compared to the previous year (Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), 2017). In fact, the year 2016 was full of unrest in many parts of the country and The Reporter (Ethiopian newspaper) called 2016 as "Year of unrest" (The Reporter, September 10, 2016). The government declared a state of emergency several times in 2017 and 2018 because of the prolonged insecurity in the country.

The above concrete examples clearly demonstrate that the economic growth and infrastructural developments of the past two decades have not achieved the anticipated stability, national cohesion and sense of national identity. A true nation-building process involves psychological contact in terms of goals, beliefs, attitudes and emotions by the majority of ethnic groups. The constitution defines nations, nationalities and peoples as a group of people who have or share large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identity, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory." [FDRE, 1995, Article 39 (5)]. As it can be understood from the above descriptions, it is common psychological make-up, common or related identities, common culture or similar customs and mutual intelligibility of language that defines and binds the members of ethnic groups together. It makes no mention of common or similar economy. If speaking common or similar language brings members of an ethnic group together, the same philosophy /construct brings national integration and cohesion among the different ethnic groups of Ethiopia. In other words, investing in language literacy is just as investing in nation-building. Hippler (2005) stresses that communication infrastructures plus "nationwide mass media" for establishing a national political and cultural discourse are key variables in nation-building (p.9). If the people of the country do not communicate using any common language, the availability of nationwide mass media will do nothing to attain the intended result of nation-building.

It could not be denied that the EPRDF government tried to create national integration through the celebration of "nations and nationalities day" once a year. The government intends to create intercultural contact among the different ethnic groups in the country. However, there are many limitations to the cultural ceremony. The more the nations and nationalities day is given much emphasis, the more inter-ethnic conflicts are observed. Let alone bringing about national integration, the ceremony could not lessen inter-group hatred of the past. The major problem, as far as the writer is concerned, is that people could not communicate with each other using any language. They could not come together and discuss the hatred, suspicion, and prejudice that politicians and ethnic activists in the social media spread about. They could not share their feelings and perceptions with each other. The reason is that they could not communicate using a common language. If there is no communication, there is no understanding. If people could not understand each other, the dream of creating national integration remains in vain. As indicated in Watts et al (2010), nation-building is when ethnic groups value, understand and relate to each other in ways to move forward, not to move backwards.

Functional State Apparatus

The third key variable in the nation-building process is the development of a functional State apparatus that controls its national territory. State-building is a core aspect of successful nation-building. It presupposes a range of practical capabilities, such as creating a financial basis for a functioning state apparatus, that is an effective fiscal system, as well as organized police and legal system and an administrative apparatus that are effective and accepted throughout the country (Hippler, 2005).

In the Ethiopian constitution of 1995, there are nine regional States delimited based on, among other things, language identity (Article 46). The states of the federation are given an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession (Article, 39(1). Moreover, according to every nation, nationality and people in Ethiopia has the right to a full measure of self-government which includes the right to establish institutions of government in the territory that it inhabits and to equitable representation in state and federal governments (Article, 39(3). In line with these constitutional provisions, each regional States has its own territory, language policy, the justice system, police, flag, regional anthem, and other elements that a State. The difference between these regional States and a country is that these States do not have their own currency and military force.

Importance of Building National Identity

The first question that people ask in building a national identity, maybe is why governments worry too much in building national identity? What are the values of building national identity? Although the answers to these questions are not simple and precise, investing in nation-building activities has enormous advantages to a country. This section is devoted to the description of some of the importance of building a national identity in general and in the Ethiopian context in particular.

After independence in the 1960s and early 1970s, nation-building or rather "national integration" as it was then called was one of the most prominent topics among both academics and policy-makers in the continent (Zolberg, 1967; Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013). The assumption was that nation-building takes primacy over all other tasks, including economic development (Zolberg, 1967; Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013). It was assumed to be the basis for social and economic development and sustainability of States, especially in countries with ethnically fragmented populations (Ahlerup & Hansson, 2011). In emphasizing this fact, Watts et al (2010) state that, "we cannot have a well-functioning state or social or economic systems unless we have deep bonds that hold us together in our countries. We need to put a lot more emphasis on producing those national identities than in nurturing cultures that may be under threat"(p.64). National identity is what Ethiopians currently need to get out of the ethnic mess they are immersed in. The extreme ethnocentric mentality is causing the displacement of millions of citizens from different parts of the country.

Empirical studies indicate that fragmentation or stressing ethnicity negatively contributes to economic growth through distorting public policies (Easterly & Levine, 1997), uncontrollable corruption (Mauro, 1995), distorted provision of public goods (Miguel, 2004), and above all violence and civil wars (Bormann, et al., 2017). The issue of corruption, poor administration, and public mistrust on the provision of goods and services are on top of the agenda in the EPRDF Ethiopia. The country ranks 114th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries (Transparency International, 2018). Ethiopia is also the 122 most competitive nations in the world out of 140 countries. Doing business in the country is not that much smooth. According to 2018 data, it ranked 159 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business (World Economic Forum, 2018).

National integration is assumed to a recommendable policy to moderate the negative effects of ethnic fragmentation (Ahlerup & Hansson, 2011). The positive impact of civic nationalism is that people with stronger nationalistic sentiments tend to have stronger dislikes for imported goods (Mayda & Rodrik, 2005), promotes solidarity between rich and poor, between low caste and high caste, and between left and right on the political scale (Eriksen, 1993). Moreover, people help each other in times of difficulty when their national identity is stronger (Fowler & Kam, 2007). Finally, nationalism improves government effectiveness through policy implementation. When people are more nationalistic and identify more with their nation, their willingness to make personal sacrifices to their nation is higher (Ahlerup & Hansson, 2011).

In ethnic fragmented Ethiopia, national integration is and better promoted than extreme ethnocentrism. I end up this section with anonymous saying. UNITE!! Taken by themselves, hydrogen and oxygen gases do not give water unless they are combined.

Language Policy and National Identity

Because of its sensitivity and vitality, language policies naturally form an important part in nation-building processes. Historically, nation-building has meant religious and linguistic homogenization, to the point where language-speaking communities and nations to be largely synonymous. For instance, Stalin (1913, cited in Gerda, 1993) defined a nation as:

a human group which possesses certain definite characteristics. It is a historically stable community of people. It has a common vernacular language. It occupies a single piece of territory. It has an integrated, coherent economy. It possesses a community of psychological make-up ( Gerda, 1993, p. 108).

As can be seen from Stalin's definition of a nation, having a common language enables a group of people to be called a nation that is capable of self-determination. The current Ethiopian federal system of governance appears to have taken the idea of Stalin in creating a regional state. The Ethiopian constitution ( FDRE,1995 ) describes nations, nationalities and people as "…a group of people who have or share large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory". Nations, nationalities and people of Ethiopia are also given unconditional rights to self-determination. Except for the economic system, the other criteria of defining nation, nationality and people are taken from Stalin's definition of a nation. In both cases, the idea of language similarity is taken as principal criteria for defining a nation.

A famous medieval Italian writer, Dante, believed that a language is synonymous with a nation. A nation can create a homeland, but not a language. Should a language perish, a nation will perish (Kononenko & Holowinsky, 2008, p. 210). Similarly, close connections between language and nation are emphasized in Kohn's (1945) writings. He points out that the emphasis on a common language led to collective national identity in nineteenth-century Europe. After the First World War, the principle of self-determination was applied largely to communities defined in terms of language. Today, the term nation seems to refer to entities which have no politico-economic realization, but only a cultural-linguistic one, such as the Arab nation which refers to the totality of countries in which Arabic is the native language and whose people have a common history and common cultural values (Gerda, 1993).

Looking at the evidence so far one could say that, far from being a negligible factor, one of the basic organizing principles of nationalism is language. The question one might ask is why is language so closely related to a nation? There are several interrelated reasons for this.

Language as an instrument of communication/information

Nation-building is accomplished when governments create communities of communication (Wright, 2000). As a means of ensuring a community of communication, language is a prime requirement of all nationalist projects, whether it comes initially or later in the process. On top of that, access to the full variety of information which enables the participation of citizens is determined and structured by language policy. People exercise their rights if they receive communications from government officials or public services in a language they can understand.

Language also serves as a means of mobilizing a proportional group of population. In India, for example, leaders of the nationalist movement used language as a resource for mass mobilization against colonial rule and discrimination (Dasgupta, 2003). The leaders of these associations had their own political and cultural differences, but they all seemed to agree on the need to promote a sense of pride in regional languages, as opposed to the colonial language.

Language as an emblem of identity

Language is much more than just a speech. It is a carrier of culture, of individual, community and even national identity. As a differentiating symbol, a national language can simply remain iconic (Wright, 2000). According to Safran (1999) kinship, religion, or language, are among the important foundations of ethnic group markers. Among these, language is the most important one. The reason is that kinship lines are often difficult to authenticate; religious links are weakening in an age of growing secularization, and culture without language is a global mass culture that is momentary and implies little in the way of tradition or emotional commitment. There remains language; more specifically, an ethno nationally distinct language (p.90).

The tran-political attraction of some neighbouring states in Asia and Europe demonstrate how language attracts better than religion or material gain. For instance, the Bengali language movement and ethnic tensions in Sind were the most important ethnic problems in Pakistan. In1971 Bangladesh separated from Pakistan. Being Muslim was not a sufficient bond for the nation. Language outdid religion (Ayres, 2003). Similarly, after the First World War, the principle of self-determination was applied largely to communities defined in terms of language. At the time, Hungary was attracted to Rumanian and Slovak Magyars to German speakers in Czechoslovakia. The ethnolinguistic factor was more important than the prospect of material gain, at least initially (Safran, 1999). Likewise, language as a sign of identity enjoyed certain advantages in multicultural India. Unlike religion, India's major language groups often have a regional distribution that yields an easier negotiating ground for autonomy claims (Dasgupta, 2003).

Recently, Bormann, Cederman, & Vogt (2017) reflected the significant feature of language than religion in instigating civil wars and ethnic conflicts. In the study, Bormann et al (2017) compiled 63 years data (from 1946-2009) that covers 130 states around the world where ethnicity is politically relevant in national politics. The results revealed that civil wars were nine times more frequent when there is a language difference than when there is a religious difference (the corresponding ratio for religious differences is merely two). They concluded that language was more clearly associated with civil wars and ethnic conflict than religion.

The other manifestation of language as an identity marker is its close relation to ethnicity. It has been claimed that ethnic identity is intrinsically connected with language. Language is often taken as a principal criterion (but not the only one) to classify ethnicity. For example, the ethnicity data for some European countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland largely reflects languages. The "ethnicity" that has been identified in Switzerland include German 65 per cent, French 18 per cent, Italian 10 per cent, other Swiss six per cent, and Romans one per cent (Alesina et al., 2003). This implies that German-speaking people in Switzerland are considered as ethnic Germans, French-speaking communities are considered as ethnic French, etc.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there is a strong emotional attachment to language and ethnicity. Language is often seen as the storehouse of ethnicity. Each ethnic group expresses and identifies itself by the language it speaks, and its cultural belongings are shaped by its language. The sameness of language and ethnicity creates a bond of acceptance and provides a basis for togetherness, for identity, for separateness, for unity, and brotherhood and kinship (Obeng & Adegbija, 1999). In the Ghanaian context, for example, ethnicity and language are particularly closely related as many ethnic groups are named after the language they speak (for example, Ewe and Akan) (Langer & Ukiwo, 2008). The same is true in Ethiopia where ethnic federalism is practised. The States of the federations (which are commonly referred to as regional States) are named after the language that is dominant in the region like Afar, Oromiya, Tigray, Somali, etc. It means that, for example, Afar Regional State belongs to the people that speak Afar language.

Language as a sign of recognition and inclusion

The language of the state carries with it powerful hidden messages about citizenship. It is a signal of who is included in the political community and on what terms (Smith, 2008). Language acknowledgement can build identification with, loyalty to, and membership in a particular national political community or it can significantly undermine any efforts in this direction (Kymlicka & Patten, 2003, p. 11). In particular, since language identity is so closely related to ethnic identity, ethnic groups whose language is valued, used and promoted feel superior over the others. These groups also feel inclusion in the political community and develop a sense of national identity. That is why the Amhara ethnic group in Ethiopia is closely linked with their sense of Ethiopian citizenship and identity (Smith, 2008). Citizens who feel that their language is not valued by the State may feel a sense of rejection, and resist efforts of the government to incorporate them.

Language Planning

As indicated above, the question of language policy is very important in nation-building processes particularly in multilingual countries like Ethiopia. Politicians and policy-makers should take many precautions while drafting language policy. This is especially important when language is considered as an instrument for building a national identity. As much as possible, language planning should accommodate diversity in a nation and nationalities in a country.

Kaplan and Baldauf (1997) define language planning as a body of ideas, laws and regulations (language policy), change rules, beliefs, and practices intended to achieve a planned change (or to stop change from happening) in the language usage in one or more communities. To put it differently, language planning involves deliberate , although not always overt, future-oriented change in systems of language code and/or speaking in a societal context (Kaplan & Baldauf, 1997, p.3). Language policy is an ideological process and a political tool. The term ‘language policy’ usually refers to the formulation of laws, regulations and official positions regarding language usage and the allocation of linguistic resources by some government or other political organization (Orman, 2008, p.39).

Depending on their ideological orientations, countries may pursue monolingual or multilingual language policies. In the following sections, the features of countries that follow monolingual or multilingual policies are discussed.

Monolingual policies

Most studies on multilingualism are handicapped by a totally historical world view and the prejudice that the achievement of national and linguistic unification is a condition for the attainment of nationhood and advancement in general. As indicated above, linguistic uniformity had frequently been viewed as a precondition for the creation and consolidation of national identity. Consequently, nations and countries aspiring to nationhood which do not have one national language are considered substandard or, at any rate problematic (Gerda, 1993, p.1). Such historical legacies of equating a nation with language forced bilingual and multilingual nations to follow monolingual language policies. Strictly speaking, monolingualism refers only to those situations where one language is the only means of communication at all levels of social interaction (Gerda, 1993).

In France, the nineteenth-century national education systems consciously used the national language as a strategy for national linguistic unification. Education was used as an effective tool in assimilating the children of the diverse traditions of France and building a culturally cohesive nation-state. The individual's sense of community at the regional level was weakened and refocused at the national level. In the era of the mass migrations of the twentieth century, European demanded cultural and linguistic assimilation as the price immigrants must pay for their inclusion (Wright, 2000). In 1998, the State of California banned instruction in any language other than English. The other States followed this assimilation policy of the English-only movement (Wright & Bougie, 2007). The move intended that minority children would benefit more quickly assimilating them to the dominant language. In other words, the real motive of the assimilation plan was not to dominate minority groups; rather it was intended to profit them. A possible shortfall of the assimilation policy of States was language. It was not understood to be an aspect of a group's identity.

In pre-independent Africa, colonialists used foreign languages like English, French, Portuguese, and so forth and marginalized the African languages. Boadi (1971, cited in Safran, 1999) points out the circumstance that may have led to the imposition of European languages on sub-Saharan Africans was the practical aim of establishing unity in political units that the colonialists had won either by invasion or treaty. Specifically, each colonial administration thought of its language as a unifying element for the different ethnic and linguistic groups it had colonized and administered.

After independence, nation-building or "national integration" as it was then called was the primary agenda among leaders and policymakers in Africa (Zolberg, 1967; Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013). Language was taken as an entry point to foster national unity in ethnic fragmented Africa. The governments saw European languages as instruments of unity and nation-building. After independence, many post-colonial States with many ethnic groups and where ethnicity was a major impediment to development continued using European languages. A good example in this regard is Uganda. In his speech, former President Milton Obote indicated that:

if one of the local languages were to replace English in the Ugandan parliament, half the members would have to resign and all-important positions would pass to people knowing that language, regardless of their ability and political acceptability. Furthermore, the choice of a specific language might arouse tribalism and possibly lead to civil war (Cited in Gerda, 1993, p. 112).

President Obote intended to unite the country using one "neutral" language as an official language. According to him, the choice of one African language over others would certainly lead to the repression of others. Botswana and Nigeria are other African countries that have undertaken nation-building projects by promoting the ex-colonial language as the language of national unity (Ojo, 2010; Orman, 2008). In the absence of a common African language, it is claimed that the imported official language would accomplish a unifying role among different ethnic groups and amalgamate them into a national unit.

Unlike Uganda, Botswana and Nigeria, other governments in post-colonial Africa adopted local language to foster national cohesion. Kenya and Tanzania are good examples in this regard. To play down ethnic feelings and to encourage Kenyan nationalism, President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya took note of the relevance of language and culture in nationalism. In 1974, he took a decision to make Swahili the national language of Kenya (Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013). In a similar vein, in an attempt to promote national identity over ethnic identity, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania encouraged the use of Swahili at the official, national, and educational levels. President Idi Amin of Uganda also declared Swahili as a national language in 1973, and the language was eventually practised as a national language in the 1995 constitution (Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013). However, the use of native African languages of wider communication may have helped unify people of different ethnic origins only to a very limited extent. Local people continued to view themselves as different from those in other localities (Bandyopadhyay & Green, 2013).

Ethiopian understanding of State building project under the leadership of Haile Selassie I is strikingly similar to those used by other African leaders of the same period. Since Ethiopia has never been colonized by any European country, it did not put under the influence of any foreign language. Amharic which is the language of the Amhara ethnic group was the only langue used for educational and administrative purposes. Prior to the introduction of Amharic as the official language, Ge'ez language, which does not represent any ethnic group in the country, was used by religious leaders and some educated intellectuals (Bahiru, 1991). Amharic was introduced to be a secular language of the country in the early nineteenth century by Emperor Tewodros. It is after this time that Amharic took dominance in the country. During its introduction, few people have mastered writing and reading Amharic. For instance, during the early twentieth century, only half of Menilek’s Council of Ministers could read and write with ease, let alone the people (Pankhurst, 1969, cited in Smith, 2008).

It was Haile Selassie's drive for political centralization in the early twentieth century that necessitated the standardization and full-scale implementation of written Amharic. It was not only his state-building vision but his vision of a nation of Ethiopians, which pushed Haile Selassie towards Amharic (Smith, 2008). As can be seen, the replacement of Ge'ez language with Amharic by Emperor Tewodros or the continual emphasis of Amharic language by Emperor Menilek or Haile Selassie I was meant to create a cohesive nation-State. If that was not the case, these leaders were all Christians and could have used Ge'ez, the language of the church.

During the socialist regime, in spite of some movement away from full linguistic domination, Amharic continued to be the dominant language at all levels. However, unlike the imperial regime, the socialist regime attempted some nationality languages to be used in conducting different campaigns. For instance, during the first zemecha or ‘Development through Cooperation Campaign’ (1974-75) and literacy campaign or meseret timhirt in the 1980s, nationality languages were widely used. The campaign was taught in 15 different languages and it was believed that they covered 93 per cent of Ethiopia's population (Tekleselassie & Alemu, 2006; Ayalew, 1999).

Despite important changes in language policy under the socialist regime, Amharic knowledge remained a requirement for political or economic participation. Critically, the literacy campaign only involved non-formal education. Primary schools throughout the country continued to teach in Amharic regardless of nationality languages. This denotes how language was not treated with enough sensitivity by the imperial and socialist regimes in Ethiopia. Both the socialist and imperial regimes under Mengistu and Haile Selassie rule respectively sought to establish a unified Ethiopia with Amharic as the official language. All other identities were to be abolished either by way of assimilation or by force. Language assimilation and suppression of other nationality languages became a primary source of resentment by non-Amharic speaking ethnolinguistic groups. Very often, ethno linguistically-based groups that demand language recognition were labelled as counter-revolutionary and ‘narrow nationalists' (Smith, 2008, p.220).

Language is an immediately visible indicator of segregation, of rights denied. As indicated above, many multilingual nations of the world followed one language policy (local or foreign) in the name of fostering national cohesion. However, in countries like Ethiopia, the monolingual policy has brought conflict and sense of disintegration than unity. For example, armed forces like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Eritrean People Liberation Front(EPLF) had raised the question of self-determination including secession. As Smith (2008) stated, "denial of the right to speak one's mother tongue, the language of home, family, clan, ethnic or religious group, is often experienced as perhaps the most undemocratic and autocratic of all policy measures passed by the state" (p. 212). In countries that are distinguished by linguistic diversity, acknowledging languages of nationalities play an enormous role in the nation-building process.

Multilingual Language policies

In many countries, policies of holding back ethnolinguistic claim by minority groups, as well as homogenizing and unifying language systems did little for national integration. At times it caused civil wars as in the case of Ethiopia. As indigenous minority and formerly oppressed groups throughout the world assert abroad set of political rights, including language rights; states have been obliged to adopt somewhat more flexible and diversified language policies (Smith, 2008). Multilingual language planning then became a great concern for these countries.

Multilingualism refers to those situations where more than one language is used as a means of communication at various levels of social interaction. Based on their spatial arrangements (horizontal versus vertical), multilingualism itself has two forms. Vertical multilingualism occurs when two or more ethnolinguistic groups share the same territory and participate in joint socio-economic activities. It is usually associated with social change, language shift among the speakers of minority languages and an expansion of one or several dynamic lingua franca.

On the other hand, there are many situations where a given geographic space is dissected into small units, each separated from the other by natural barriers and inhabited by a small, isolated community whose language or dialect differs from that of its neighbours. Although in these small communities only one language may be used for all purposes of social communication (monolingualism), their coexistence within a larger social organization contributes to horizontal multilingualism at the macro level. Horizontal multilingualism is the putting together of tiny monolingual societies, living in virtual isolation (Gerda, 1993). Depending on their sociolinguistic environment, inhabitants can be monolingual, bilingual or multilingual. Multilingual policies are important symbols of the state’s position and value given to various nationalities which compose the state.

As it has been described earlier, the sociolinguistic environment dictates countries to adopt a certain form of language policy. Some examples of countries that have followed a multilingual policy are discussed below. In Europe, Switzerland is a good example of Europe's oldest and most stable multilingual country. Two languages (French or German) were chosen to be the official languages for the federal government and communications between the regions and the federal government. Each region has legislative and administrative autonomy and its language is used in all domains of social communication (Gerda, 1993).


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Language Policy of Education and National Identity in Ethiopia
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language, policy, education, national, identity, ethiopia
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Yirgalem Alemu (Author), 2019, Language Policy of Education and National Identity in Ethiopia, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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