Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education



Lydiah Kananu Kiramba

Date of this Version



Published in Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 37:2 (2019), pp 171–187.

doi 10.2989/16073614.2019.1632723


Copyright © NISC (Pty) Ltd. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies is co-published by NISC (Pty) Ltd and Informa UK Limited (trading as Taylor & Francis Group). Used by permission.


This paper presents a critical review of literature relating to language policy and literacy practices in education, with a particular focus on multilingual Kenya. Existing research on schooling in Kenya often draws attention to the use of languages that are distanced from students’ daily realities and localities. This article synthesizes research on literacy practices in Kenyan primary classrooms to explicate the current language-in-education policy and practices, and, to discuss their impacts on literacy access and knowledge production in the classroom. We argue that Kenya’s language-in-education policy, which informs curricula and teaching, and is itself grounded in monoglossic orientations, inhibits students’ participation in knowledge production, and, thus, silences students’ voices, leading to epistemic exclusion of the often-marginalized rural students who have limited or no access to school language outside the classroom. We recommend adoption of home languages and legitimizing translanguaging practices in multilingual classrooms as a possible remedy for literacy access, sustenance, and development.