In a 1953 landmark publication, UNESCO underscored the importance of educating children in their mother-tongue (UNESCO, 1953). Yet, more than 50 years since the first UNESCO statement, and despite a plethora of books, articles, numerous conventions, declarations and recommendations addressing this issue, including a range of conclusive experiments of using local languages in education and polity, most African countries continue to use the former colonial language as the primary language of instruction and governance. This advocacy brief seeks to show the pivotal role of languages in achieving good quality learning. It aims in particular to dispel prejudice and confusion about African languages, and exposes the often hidden attempt to discredit them as being an obstacle to learning. It draws on research and practice to argue what kind of language policy in education would be most appropriate for Africa.