Thursday, September 28, 2017

[MLE] Is multilingual education encouraging violence or peace?

Expert panel in debate.  Photo by Natalie Lovenburg

While visiting government officials I have often come across the assumption that multilingual education would foster separation movements and therefore violence. Recently a panel called "Linguistic tolerance as a tool for resiliency in multilingual societies against violence and radicalization" addressed this issue. As this is also relevant for India I post the reference here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

[MLE] Textbooks in 5 tribal languages released




 

Last month textbooks in 5 tribal languages and 2 regional languages were released by the government of Jharkhand. They have been distributed to around 1,000 schools in 8 districts for initiating the Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education programme in Jharkhand.

The languages covered by this initiative are the Santhali, Mundari, Ho, Kurukh and Kharia tribal languages and the Odia and Bangla regional languages. A six-minute video clip was made for the occasion. It pictures a tribal boy who is sad because he feels alienated from the school and other children as he does not speak Hindi. He is crying and does not want to go to school any more. Then his mother talks with the school leadership and things start changing as they allow the tribal language to be used in the school. The clip also contains several short interviews with teachers, and we get a glimpse into how the new textbooks are used. The clip is in Hindi.

Monday, March 20, 2017

[MLE] Positive Research Results East Timor


We are often asked for research evidence with regards to the impact of MLE. Even though the below write up is not on a project in India, it seems to have enough similarity to make it relevant to take note of. The Endline survey of the pilot is showing that MLE children do better in particularly reading.

In the article Building bridges through multilingual schooling: a mother-tongue pilot in East Timor is showing the way, Kerry Taylor-leech writes with enthusiasm about the classes she observed. “The children love it and I too am enjoying myself immensely.”. About the evaluation report she states:
the survey compared children’s performance in EMBLI schools, government schools and Portuguese-immersion schools. Not surprisingly, the results show the benefits of learning in a language a child understands best. EMBLI children showed marked gains compared to the other children, especially in reading

[MLE] Mother Language day - Updates and Resources

International Mother Language Day 2017 (Image source- en.unesco.org)

In the week of the International Mother Language Day there are usually extra postings related to language and education. Particularly because this year the theme is: “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. It is also a good excuse to list a few (new) resources.

The postings in the India Express and India Today are quite general in nature with some quotations from Unesco and background on the history of the day. WebIndia reports that activist used the day to demand linguistic parity for the regional languages. Chanpreet Kaur published an interview with Dr Mukti Sanyal on How the focus on English could be seriously damaging India's future with an interesting link to self-esteem: “We are losing our mother languages. And with it, we are losing self esteem, different ways of seeing the world, and encouraging the mugging up of the concepts”. Scroll.in used the opportunity to dig into history: Which 'mother language' did India's lawmakers want after Independence? A nice news item is that the goverment of Bengal gave Kurukh language an official status and a promise that Rajbangshi/Kamtapuri will also be given that status.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

[MLE] English compulsory

Panel of secretaries recommends to make English a compulsory
Copyright: Financial Express

Earlier this month a panel of secretaries from the Group on Education and Social Development has recommended to make English a compulsory subject in all schools beginning from class VI, and to start at least one English-medium school in each of the 6,612 blocks in the country.

This news was reported in the Indian Express and the Financial Express a couple of weeks ago. I had hoped by now a few more details would have come out, as the panel aims for its implementation by this April. However the newspapers remain silent about it.
The panel claims that this recommendation is in line with the three language formula by that it still allows the medium of instruction be the mother tongue, while English will have to be added as either number two or three. The advise goes against the RSS recommendation of last October that suggested that "the medium of instruction from elementary to higher levels in schools should be the mother tongue and English should not be compulsory at any level."

These same discussions are very common in the field. I e.g. recall an NGO working in Maharashtra that taught the children in their tribal language, but added English , rather than Hindi, from the start to keep the parents motivated to send their children to school. Pedagogically not the most sound method, but it definitely boosted the parents participations!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

[MLE] Book release: English and multilingual education

New book on multilingual education in India with a special focus on teaching English.

 

Dr Mahendra Mishra is a well known figure in the area of multilingual education in India. He  was State Coordinator for Multilingual Education (1996-2010) in Odisha and spearheaded the mother tongue-based multilingual education in the primary schools in ten tribal languages there. So, when he (co-)writes a book, we better take notice!


MLE proponents usually have a love-hate relationship with English as the English is often suppressing the building of a good foundation in the mother tongue. It is therefore quite courageous to write a book on "Multilingual Education in India: The Case for English". The description makes you want to read more: 
"Some perceive English language education as a hindrance to the growth of lndian languages and allege that it causes a social divide. The arguments of this book convincingly correct this uninformed notion and prove that English has been a tool of empowerment and a driver of social and economic mobility. The contributors demonstrate that local languages and cultures can be revived by integrating them into English language education."


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

[MLE] Conference on Language and Education starting tomorrow

5th International Conference on Language and Education will start tomorrow

 


The 5th International Conference on Language and Education will  take stock of recent developments in MLE policies and practices in the Asia-Pacific region, with a special focus on multilingual education in early childhood and primary education.There will be several presentations relevant to India.
 
The conference will start tomorrow with opening speeches from UNESCO and the Thai government. The Keynote address will be on "Supporting MTB­MLE to achieve sustainable development for all: what have we learned about successful programs?" by Dr Susan Malone (SIL International). Some of the India related presentations are: