Language Policy and Social Identity in the Light of Socio-Political Changes in Ethiopia. A Comparative Case Study among the Gumuz and Shinasha

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Sophie Küspert-Rakotondrainy


Ethiopia has since 1991 pursued a federal system of governance that recognizes the different ethnic groups living within its borders. This comparative
case study has investigated the relationship between this socio-political change, language policy in education and social identity among two minority
groups in western Ethiopia, the Gumuz and the Shinasha. The sample includes 59 informants; education administration officers at different levels and school
stakeholders. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were used in addition to review of official documents on education. The findings indicate
a huge political drive behind the language policy as well as an increased and improved sense of ethnic and cultural identity. However, the policy
is received differently among the two groups. It is also suggested that the relationship between socio-political change, language policy, and social identity
may be circular.

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