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English as a global language and the question of nation‐building education in Bangladesh

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The national language Bangla (Bengali), which is spoken by 98% of the people, is foundational to the nation of Bangladesh as a nation. Language played a crucial role in the struggle for independence from Pakistan which was finally successful in 1971. The medium of instruction in state‐provided basic education is Bangla. Nevertheless, as in the colonial period a significant part of the elite is educated in English medium schools and subject to British‐determined curriculum and assessment. English medium private education carries the highest prestige, and the private sector is dominant in secondary education. The role of English is now being enhanced by globalization, which threatens a cultural recolonization of Bangladesh, and by World Bank strategies designed to promote the private school sector. The article discusses these problems and explores elements of a language policy that might be able to enhance both Bangla literacy and competence in English.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dhaka University, Bangladesh

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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