Language Education Policy Studies
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Language Education Policies in Angola

The Decreto de Norton de Matos (Norton de Matos’ Decree) of 1927 constituted the first legal and official effort of Portugal to establish a language policy in Angola. Decreto de Norton de Matos or decree number 77 “prohibited the use of indigenous languages in official settings including inter alia churches and schools” (Manuel, 2015). Article 2 of the decree states that there will be “no teaching of indigenous languages in missionary schools” and Article 3 states that the “use of indigenous languages is only permissible in speech, in the teaching of the catechism, at elementary level, as a support of Portuguese” (Manuel, 2015). With the dismissal of indigenous languages, this decree also dismissed the associated cultures, traditions, and speakers of those languages while simultaneously elevating those of Portuguese. 

            After gaining its independence in 1975, Angola adopted Portuguese as the nation’s only official language further cementing the intolerance of ethnic minority languages in many aspects of society. It was not until 1987 that another formal written document addressed language diversity in Angola. Resolução n° 3/87 of 1987 approved the alphabet of 6 national languages and introduced those national languages into the adult education system (Manuel, 2015). In establishing this resolution, Angola made an attempt to raise indigenous languages into the national sphere. This resolution occurred at a time when the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) jumpstarted the ‘National Languages of the People’s Republic of Angola Project’ which aimed to introduce national languages as a medium of instruction into primary schools with literacy as the ultimate goal.

However, the 2001 Lei de Bases do Sistema de Educação number 13/01 authorized Portuguese as the only medium of instruction and approved the introduction of national languages into the adult education system ignoring the foundational levels of primary and secondary school. Lastly, the Angolan Constitution reaffirms Portuguese as an official language and states that it is the obligation of the state to, “value and promote the study, teaching and use of other Angolan languages, in addition to the main international languages of communication” (Article 19, Section 1 & 2). While Angola has made significant steps towards elevating the status of indigenous languages by creating written documents addressing Angola’s linguistic diversity, it is the hope that additional policy will be created to target concrete implementation and integration of indigenous languages into the society.


Works Cited:

Augusto, A. (2012). Assessing the Introduction of Angolan Indigenous Languages in the Educational System in Luanda: A Language Policy Perspective. School of Literature and Language Studies Department of Linguistics. 


Manuel, N. (2015). Language and Literacy Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards a Bilingual Education Policy in Angola.


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Nkooyooyo, Evelyn (2017). Language Education Policies in Angola. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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