FW: [MLE] UN statement on indigenous people's right to education

Dear MLE friends,
The Human Rights Council of the United Nations just published a report titled: "Study on lessons learned and challenges to achieve the implementation of the right of indigenous peoples to education". Attached is the summary report. For your convenience I copied the section on Teaching of indigenous languages below.

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.
SIL, South Asia Group.

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F.  Teaching of indigenous languages

74.  Mother-tongue-based bilingual education has had a positive impact in many countries. Governments and donors now recognize initiatives by indigenous organizations as effective strategies to bridge education for indigenous children in mainstream education institutions; in
many countries, they receive financial support from the State.
75.  The main concept of mother-tongue-based bilingual education is that, once a child learns his or her indigenous language well, learning a second language will be easier. The benefits of mother-tongue-based bilingual education include a better personal and conceptual foundation for learning (if indigenous languages are learnt well and not suppressed); access to more information and opportunities (knowing other languages and other cultures); and more flexible thinking processes, thanks to the ability to process information in two languages.
76.  Most indigenous children are disadvantaged when they join primary schools and cannot speak the national language, which is usually the teaching medium. Valuable lessons learned to decrease this disadvantage include using a participatory approach whereby indigenous representatives are involved in decision-making processes, developing books and materials, managing lessons and selecting community members to be trained as language teachers.
77.  Experience in Namibia, Norway and Malaysia reveal that teaching children in their own  language during early child (preschool) education establishes a firm foundation and facilitates learning of other languages at a later age. Effective methods include centring language learning on the community, including allowing children to meet native speakers and culture-bearers in natural community settings.
78.  Good examples of teaching of indigenous languages at higher levels of education as the mother tongue or as an optional language in universities also exist, such as in Sámi University College in Norway, which delivers education and research within a range of programmes, including the Sámi language. At the College, the Sámi language is both the medium of instruction and the language of administration.
79.  Enacting laws relating to mother-tongue bilingual education and the setting-up of institutes can ensure compulsory education provided by the State will include indigenous languages, such as in Mexico, under the general law of the linguistic rights of indigenous peoples and the establishment of a national institute of indigenous languages.
80.  Some numerically small, disadvantaged indigenous groups are specifically vulnerable to losing their languages and marginalization in the education sector. These groups should be identified and targeted through decisive measures to assist in the preservation of their languages, including by elaborating standard orthographies, grammars, vocabularies and materials.

From: Susan Malone
Sent: 12 August 2009 01:46
To: Susan Malone
Subject: UN statement on indigenous people's right to education

Just received this from an Asian colleague.  It is quite relevant for all parts of the world so please feel free to share it with everyone you know!