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Caribbean Journal of Education

The Role of Law in Language Education Policy: The Jamaican Situation

Publication Date: 
September 2007

Although the Language Education Policy 2001 (LEP) developed by the ministry responsible for education in Jamaica has not passed through all the channels for official adoption, it represents the clearest indication yet of an articulated national policy on language education by the government of Jamaica. The aim of the draft policy is to provide a framework for dealing with language concerns in educational institutions with a view to improving language and literacy proficiency. This is against the background of unsuitable language use and unsatisfactory performance in English language at all levels of the education system (LEP par. 2 and 6.3; Craig 1997; Craig 2006, 24–29). The draft policy accepts that the Jamaican language situation is a bilingual one, English being the official language, and Jamaican Creole (JC), an English-lexicon creole, being the language most widely used in the general speech community. It attributes the underperformance in English language largely to the linguistic relationship between these two languages (par. 6.1). The draft policy advocates the adoption of a national language education policy that would maintain Standard Jamaican English (SJE) as the official language. However, it also proposes the promotion of basic education via oral use of JC in the early school years while facilitating the development of literacy in English (par. 7.1). 

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