Unpeeling the language policy and planning onion in Rwanda

Layer roles

  • Emmanuel Sibomana The Wellspring Foundation for Education and University of Rwanda-College of Education.
Keywords: Language policy, Language status, Language planning, Instruction medium, Language proficiency


Language Policy and Planning is a complex endeavor that requires the intervention of different participants at different levels. In the onion metaphor which they use to represent language policy and planning, Ricento and Hornberger compare these participants and levels to onion layers. These levels together with the processes in which the policy is made permeate and interact with each other to varying degrees. They include legislation and political processes, states and supranational agencies, institutions and classroom practitioners. This desk-based research article discusses these ‘layers’ and the different roles which they play in language policy and planning in Rwanda, with a focus on the 2008 language-in-education policy. The article points to a unidirectional top-down approach, to lack of coordination in the way the layers work and interact and to a very limited role of classroom practitioners and practices in the language policy and planning process in Rwanda. These practitioners are conceptualized as mere implementers of policies decided on higher offices, which has negative effects on the effectiveness of the policies and their implementation.


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How to Cite
Sibomana, E. (2018). Unpeeling the language policy and planning onion in Rwanda. International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2(2), 99-114. https://doi.org/10.29332/ijssh.v2n2.138