Friday, December 23, 2011

[MLE] Language, the basis of unity and conflict

Dear MLE friends,

A while ago I travelled with a donor to review an MLE related project in North East India. Her concern was that our efforts to develop the local languages and use them in the schools would encourage the ethnic conflicts. Today I saw an IBN article titled "Language, the basis of unity and conflict" by Prof H S Shivaprakash on this very issue. 

A few quotes:

Language, as one of the most pre-eminent expressions of human civilisation, has always been the source of unity and conflict in human history. There have been times when the unity of diverse peoples was imposed by existing forms of tyranny as in the case of Roman Civilisation. Equally numerous are the cases when language question figured prominently as a means of self-assertion as exemplified by the emergence of Bangladeshi and Ukrainian nationalism in the recent past.

India never had the counterpart of the first Chinese emperor [who wiped out all local languages -KvR]. Though at different points of time, some languages were used as lingua franca or trans-regional languages - Sanskrit, for example - the regional languages, including innumerable tribal languages without script not only did not vanish but went on flourishing as they produced high quality literary expressions, both oral and written.

Let us celebrate the diversity of our tongues, which is a hallmark of our civilisational genius. In order to offset eruptions of linguistic chauvinism, we need to reinvigorate multilingualism which has been an integral part of our culture. At the same time, we need to emphasise the need for equal growth of regions and communities to ensure the equality of languages.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

[MLE] NMRC Newsletter; Results of longitudinal study

Dear MLE friends,

Once again the JNU National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium (NMRC) has brought out a high quality newsletter. The main topic is the outcome of a longitudinal research spanning over the last three years done in Orissa and AP: "DOES MLE WORK IN ANDHRA PRADESH & ODISHA? A LONGITUDINAL STUDY"

Some quotes:
"To sum up, the findings across the two states and five time frames, it can be pointed out that in case of both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha,the MLE children had better overall performance in all the objective measures of achievement taken together; MANOVA analyses for the state specific data over the five time-frames showed clearly that the performance of the MLE children was significantly better than that of their non-MLE counterparts when all the variables are taken together." (P13)

"All the MLE teachers interviewed (except one) expressed that mother tongue of the child was ideal medium of instruction at the primary
level since it would help students relate better to what was being taught and also remove any fear and inhibitions that they might experience in the schools. " (P15)

"The dominant sentiment of the tribal communities was a pragmatic targeting development of children's competence in the state language in both the states. However, because of MLE experience, many parents were changing their views and were favouring the decision that early education should be done in children's mother tongue. Parents whose children go to MLE schools were considerably more satisfied with their
children's learning in school though they continued to have some anxiety towards late introduction of regional language in this new curriculum." (P22)

Monday, December 19, 2011

[MLE] The outcome of the ASER Study in relation to Home-School language

Dear MLE Friends,

ASER Centre recently released Inside Primary Schools: A study of teaching and learning in rural India. Supported by UNICEF and UNESCO, this longitudinal study tracked 30,000 rural children studying in Std 2 and Std 4 in 900 schools across five states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan). These children, their classes, schools and families were tracked over a period of 15 months (2009-2010) in order to take a comprehensive look at the factors in the school, in the classroom and in the family that correlate with children’s learning outcomes. (See a summary of the outcomes below)

They also studied the difference between children whose home language is the same with children with a different home language. It makes clear that this indeed makes an impact on learning of the children. A quote:

Children whose home language is different from the school medium of instruction face enormous additional problems at school. Given the lack of bridging mechanisms to enable a smooth transition from one language to the other, these children tend to attend school far less regularly.  Whereas across both classes, about half of all children whose home language was the same as the school language were present in school on all  three visits, this proportion is far lower among children whose home language was different from the school language (Table 6.14). Learning outcomes for these two groups of children are unequal to begin with and these differences accentuate over the course of one year, both in Std 2 and in Std 4. (P 69)
The table attached shows  some relevant findings too. It  would be interesting to connect this data to drop-out rates too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

[MLE] New MTB-MLE International network website

Dear MLE friends,

A new MLE focussed international website has been set up that is certainly worth adding to your favourites:

I enjoyed an article (with a nice 15 minute video) on the Lango Literacy project in Uganda. The Resource Basket has 7 subtopics with lots of articles. I e.g. clicked on "Policy" and found about 15 articles on the topic. There is also a way to submit new articles yourself.

Of course there is an events calender and there is a forum for discussions. I would recommend to subscribe to the website (Right hand corner) so that you have more privileges, can join in focus groups and get updates send to you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guardian: Donors need multilingual understanding

Dear MLE friends,

Do you have a need to convince your donors to support your efforts in MLE? Here is a good article published in The Guardian, with donors as its target audience: Donors need multilingual understanding. Some quotes:

Evidence of education failure among children denied teaching in their first languages should inform a new approach to development aid

Unfortunately, this push for international language isn't working for those most in need of the economic opportunities it brings. In many countries a large proportion of children's school drop-out rates and poor performance is caused by their inability to understand the English used in class. Teachers don't have good English themselves, which stops them using interactive teaching approaches. A lack of textbooks worsens the problem.

For several years it has been accepted that children who don't already speak a language such as English won't learn well in English-medium education. Children learn language based on context and communication. In rural areas, children who grow up with one language will not "pick up'" another language for the few hours they spend at school, especially when most lessons involve passively listening to a teacher.

Friday, November 4, 2011

[MLE] Multilingual university department in south Serbia

Dear MLE friends,

Most people think only of primary education when it comes to MLE. However here is a news-item from  Serbia where they are implementing an MLE strategy at university level:

Some quotes:

A number of courses will be delivered in both Serbian and Albanian, with the proportion of Serbian-language courses gradually increasing during the four-year programme. This will give students from ethnic Albanian backgrounds the opportunity to both access higher education in their mother tongue, while also improving their proficiency in the State language, and is the first such initiative in Bujanovac.

"This model is an example of how multilingual education can solve the dilemma of 'either mother-tongue or State-language education'. The educators' and authorities' joint effort here demonstrates that,"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

[MLE] Video Clip on UNDP MLE Project in Bangladesh

Dear MLE Friends,

You are probably already familiar with the good video clips on MLE on the web. There is now also a 3 minute clip on the UNDP education project in Bangladesh :

A quote from the text:
Multilingual education allows teachers to gradually introduce the official language of Bengali, so that towards the end of primary school students can switch completely to the national curriculum, which is taught in Bengali.This approach is delivering tangible results in a region where low school enrolment and high drop-out rates have been a problem for years. The change is being felt by all.

“Now children are improving their learning in their mother languages and this has made them enthusiastic to come to the school regularly,” said Sujita Tripura, a multilingual teacher in Matiranga. “The community here has accepted the new system of education and the children really love the way we teach.” Multilingual education is providing these young children with the incentive to come to school and to stay there at a time when they are just starting down their educational paths.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

[MLE] MLE Resource Centre in Nepal

Dear MLE friends,

A positive development at our northern neighbour Nepal: The establishment of a Multilingual Education (MLE) Resource Centre in Nepal has begun with the support of UNESCO. The Unesco website states here:

"The MLE documentation centre will: provide necessary academic and research support to optimize multi-pronged engagement in providing quality MLE in Nepal; guidance for planning and implementation of MLE programmes; coordination between different MLE activities providing documentation and information resources; networking of various MLE interest groups, institutions and individuals; and establishing linkages to optimize effective utilization of expertise and materials for MLE programmes."
I found it also encouraging to read the below:

"It is expected that with the support of the MoE, the MLE resource centre at CERID will contribute to developing satellites of MLE resource centres across Nepal."

Friday, October 7, 2011

[MLE] Third issue of the UNESCO Multilingual Education Newsletter

Dear MLE friends,

The third issue of the UNESCO Multilingual Education Newsletter is out. You can find it at:

In the issues are MLE related news items and articles from all over the world. In the resource section I found e.g. the following publication:
· Closer to home: how to help schools in low- and middle-income countries respond to children's language needs by Helen Pinnock, Pamela Mackenzie, Elizabeth Pearce and Catherine Young
In the events calender I  e.g. saw
 · 2nd Philippine Conference-Workshop on Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education EFA and MTBMLE 2015 and Beyond, Philippines; 16 - 18 February 2012

Saturday, October 1, 2011

[MLE] People's Linguistic Survey of India on the way

Dear MLE friends,

In the press we have read about the progress on the Ganesh Devy's People's Linguistic Survey of India. In a recent article in the GlobalPost titled "India: fight to preserve dying languages" the potential  educational impact of that survey was also mentioned:
"Though various studies have shown that children learn better when taught basic concepts in their mother tongue before attempting to master a second language, India prioritizes just 22 out of the 900-odd languages that Devy seeks to catalogue, and the state's promised free and compulsory education is most often available in fewer still.
“In the Constitution of India, there is a special schedule of languages, which alone receive official support,” said Devy. “When the schedule was created after independence, it had 14 languages. Now it has 22. All the funds for primary, secondary and higher education can go only to these languages.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, tribal literacy rates lag behind those of the general population, and only about one-fifth of the so-called “Scheduled Tribes” noted by the Indian constitution as historically underprivileged are attending school, according to the latest census.
“If we don't include these languages in our education policy, obviously we are discriminating against them,” said Abbi. “We have a reservation policy [that mandates quotas in jobs and higher education] for the [historically underprivileged] Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. But the reservations are for the tribe, not the language. This is the reason why tribals want to forget their languages.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

[MLE] Workshop on bridging between languages; Thailand, March 2012

Dear MLE friends,

A good transition from the local language to the dominant language is crucial for a good MLE programme. Below is given your chance to learn more about it and plan for a good transition process.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

[MLE] National Call on 'Language & Education' issued by AIF-RTE

Dear MLE Friends,

As you know the Right to Education  act (RTE) does support education in mother tongue, but has stated it quite weakly by adding the wiggle line "as far as possible". The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE)  therefore organised a National Workshop "Language and Education" earlier this year. Recently they published a "National Call" with a strong urge to strengthen the appeal for using the mother tongue;
We express our deep concern that 'The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009' (henceforth referred to as the RTE Act) has made a mockery of the crucial role of the mother tongue at the formative pre-primary (nursery, KG) and elementary (Class I-VIII) stages
by stating that education in the child's mother tongue will be provided only if it is 'practicable' [Section 29 (2) (f)]. By doing this, the RTE Act has played into the hands of market forces and has failed to accord the languages of the Indian people their historic place in education. Thus
the RTE Act is bound to exacerbate the process of exclusion of masses of our children and youth from the education system. It also amounts to violation of the Fundamental Rights under Article 19(1)(a) to "freedom of speech and expression" and under Article 21A to education of
equitable quality. The RTE Act further denies the statutory Right accorded by the Constitution under Article 350A to the children of the linguistic minorities to be educated through their respective mother tongues at the primary stage.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

[MLE] MLE International Conference in China; 25-28 October 2011

Dear MLE friends,
It seems to be conference season! This time it is our northern neighbour China hosting a conference on “Zero Barrier Bilingual Education” . It will be their first International Conference on MLE. The dates: 25-28 October 2011 and the venue: Jinghong City, Xishuangbana Prefecture, Yunnan, China .The hosts for the conference comprise of the Yunnan Provincial Ministry of Education, Yunnan Ethnic Affairs Commission and SIL East Asia.
Over the two-day conference, papers will be presented and discussion groups organized to discuss current world trends in bilingual education and pedagogy, results of practical experiments, development of approaches to bilingual instruction and other related academic issues, in order to better serve minority groups.

Friday, August 5, 2011

[MLE] Impact study on SSA MLE project in AP

Dear MLE friends,

The MLE programme in Andra Pradesh is one of the biggest in the world. It is impacting 68000 children in over 2000 schools in 8 tribal languages. A few years ago an impact study was done for the first two grades. That report many of us had never seen, but is worth noting. It is called: A study on the comfortability and impact of class ii tribal language primers and classes I & II Mathematics Textbooks. The study was done by Prof Dr Shashidhar Rao of the Education Department of Institute of Advanced Study in Education for SSA. It gives a thorough documentation for each language community on the opinion of teachers, parents etc. and also the achievements of the children.

A few conclusion:

11. Parents expressed happiness over this and studied that the intervention is encouraging to the students and to them as will.
12. Students also expressed that they are able to follow were become their books are in their language.
13. By and large the achievement of the students target the tribal language textbooks is found to be higher than those language the Telugu textbook through Telugu medium

Friday, July 29, 2011

[MLE] International Consultative Meet on MLE; Mysore, 19th - 21st September 2011.

Dear MLE friends,

Good news: an MLE conference in India! The
National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium (NMRC) of JNU will hold an International Consultative Meet on MLE in collaboration with UNICEF, UNESCO, CIIL and other organisations, from 19th - 21st September 2011, in CIIL (Mysore).

The seven page concept note on "MOTHER TONGUE BASED MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION: FRAMEWORK, STRATEGIES AND IMPLEMENTATION" is worth reading. It gives an overview of what is going on in India, also paints the picture of the activities in the neighbouring countries and notes the trends.

[MLE] New Brookings report: "A Global Compact on Learning: taking action on education in developing countries"

Dear MLE Friends,

The Centre for Universal Education at the Brookings Institute has just published "A Global Compact on Learning: taking action on education in developing countries." It outlines six strategies, one of which is "Provide Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in the Lower Primary Grades".

A couple of quotes:
"Although implementing a mother-tongue-based multilingual policy requires additional resources for start-up, the costs per primary school completer may be much lower due to increased learning, reduced repetition and dropout rates, and increased completion rates. For example, in the case of a bilingual program in Mali, costs per primary school completer were reduced by 27 percent and resulted in higher academic achievement."

"Two main actions need to be taken to achieve Strategy 2B:
• Develop a comprehensive language policy in collaboration with stakeholders, followed by information programs that explain the policy.
• Address practical constraints, such as teacher deployment, teacher preparation, curriculum (including language transition), and materials development. "

"In India, Pratham has published more than 200 original titles in eleven Indian languages and provided them to a mobile library that travels between schools distributing books to children. This includes books to reach visually impaired on children by creating "talking books" as well as partnering with local radio stations to translate books into multiple languages "
See the table of content copied below. Here is the link to the full document:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

[MLE] Headsets in the classroom

Dear MLE friends,

South Africa is doing an experiment where children from the minority group get the classroom interactions translated via an interpreter. "Six months into the project (...) education officials, teachers and interpreters are enthusiastic about the results."
"The project, run by the language directorate of North-West University's (NWU) institutional office, entails the interpretation of lessons from English to Setswana in grade one, and Afrikaans lessons are interpreted to English from grades two to seven. In this way, three languages are involved in the project"
Read more at:   

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

[MLE] 9th International Language and Development Conference, Sri Lanka, Oct 2011

Dear MLE Friends,

The upcoming international language development conference on Language and Social Cohesion is hosted by Sri Lanka. It has a special track on Education.

The sub-themes under Education are:
  • Social integration through language curricula and teaching materials
  • Education, language and social inequality
  • Bi lingual and multilingual teaching including practical approaches
  • Language as a subject in the curriculum vs. language as the medium of instruction
  • Innovation in language teaching and teacher training

Monday, July 4, 2011

[MLE] MLE-E-news; Unesco

Dear MLE friends,

The latest issue of the UNESCO MLE Newsletter has an impressive list of news items, resources, events, etc. I was e.g. not yet aware of a conference close by: · 
9th International Language and Development Conference "Language and Social Cohesion.", Sri Lanka; 17 - 19 Oct. 2011 . Or how about an article on Native language skills key to Inuit academic success?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fwd: [MLE] Enthusiasm and dedication of teachers

Dear MLE Friends,
In the Philippines MLE is implemented large scale by the government. Today I saw a  article on "Folk knowledge and  MLE" in a national newspaper at which prof. Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco,   shares his experience with the programme. A few quotes:
"The remarkable thing about these training events was the overwhelming enthusiasm and dedication of the teachers, mostly in their 20s and early 30s, in producing primers, alphabet books, big books, small books and lesson exemplars in their own languages. Never before in our education history have I seen production of educational materials in native languages attempted in such a scale."

"... there is much to learn about our past and our heritage from our country’s communities. In promoting such knowledge in formal education, we also uphold their right to exist, their right to reproduce their language, and their right to practice their own culture.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

[MLE] Dictionaries on the Web

Dear MLE friends,

A useful way to promote a local language are dictionaries. Nowadays they do not need to be distributed in printed formats but can be web based and be printed on demand. A new free tool has come out to enable language communities to start building up a dictionary. This can be very helpful for teachers to help learn the local language. The tool is free and is called "Webonary". The website states:

Webonary gives language groups the ability to put their bilingual or multilingual dictionaries on the web with a minimum of technical help. Each dictionary is built around a search bar, which looks for a word throughout the dictionary, and returns the most relevant results to the top of the list.

Monday, May 30, 2011

[MLE] Resources for Multilingual Education in India (NMRC)

Dear MLE Friends,

The National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium (NMRC) just published an excellent overview of MLE related resources in India. It gives a brief description for each items and a snapshot picture. There is also a list with names of experts. Worth looking at!

Link: The table of content is copied below.

Monday, May 23, 2011

[MLE] Book, 'Dreams and Realities : Developing Countries and the English Language'

Dear MLE friends,

The British Council has recently published a collection of papers examining the relationship between language and development.  The book, 'Dreams and Realities : Developing Countries and the English Language', can be downloaded at .

There is also a paper on India in this collection titled:
4. Language policy in education and the role of English in India: From library language to language of empowerment. It has lots of interesting information on the use of the majority languages in the classrooms, but has no references to the issue of minority languages and the projects in mother tongue based multilingual education. Anybody likes to challenge the publishers on that?

[MLE] UNESCO commissions study on multilingual education in Nepal

Dear MLE friends,

Good news from our northern neighbour: the Multilingual Education efforts in Nepal have been noticed and will be evaluated. The Unesco website states:
The study will review the government’s commitment towards multilingual education, analyse the current practices and impacts on children’s performance, and evaluate the attitudes of education authorities and parents towards multilingual education.

[MLE] Overview of MLE Courses and activities

Dear MLE friends,

Several people asked what kind of courses are offered related to MLE. Therefore a page has been added to the MLE-India blog with a list of MLE related courses and events.

Monday, April 25, 2011

[MLE] Funding: Genographic Legacy Fund grants

Dear MLE friends,

Below is a funding opportunity that might be relevant for some of your projects.

[MLE] New World Bank Education Strategy published

Dear MLE Friends,

The World Bank's new education strategy  was published earlier this week. For the first time it includes a statement on the language of instruction. In the section on children between the ages of 6 and 8 it states: "Children in these age groups benefit from the instructional use of their mother tongue, combined with instruction in the dominant language.".

The phrasing seems a bit weak is it leaves space for early exit strategies (meaning a quick transition to the language of wider communication). A study like the one from Kathleen Heugh "Optimizing Learning and Education in Africa – the Language Factor" suggests that only programmes that spend several years in the mother tongue book the success needed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[MLE] Free access to Routledge education journals till end April

Dear MLE friends,

There are several journals related to Multicultural Education that are of interest to MLE practitioners and scholars. Below is an overview from one particular publisher. The articles can be read on-line for free. But If I understand it right it will only be free till the end of this month. Enjoy it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

[MLE] MLE e-news: Multilingual Education Newsletter - March 2011 - Issue 1

Dear MLE,

A new MLE newsletter has been started by the Asia Multilingual Education Working Group under the Thematic Working Group on Education for All. See below. It seems very worthwhile to subscribe. Thanks to Dave Pearson for the tip.

[MLE] Draft list of all MLE projects in India

Dear MLE Friends,

Over the last few months several people asked me what MLE related projects are actually going on in India. So we have started an overview of MLE related projects. However this overview is (hopefully!) far from complete.

If you know of any MLE related project not yet on the list, please let us know. That way we can make the list more complete and learn from each other. Any other type of feed-back on the posted list is of course welcome too!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

[MLE] Moving from "Why" to "How"; CfBT/SC report

Dear MLE friends,
This week a lot of news items were found on the internet related to multilingualism and MLE because of the celebrations on the Mother Language Day. The release of a new report from SC is one that caught my eye because it also has references to India: Reflecting language diversity in children’s schooling: moving from ‘Why multilingual education’ to ‘How?’ by Helen Pinnock . Here is the news release from the CfBT website:
Today, 21 February, CfBT releases new research to coincide with International Mother Tongue Language Day. The research, undertaken with Save the Children, examines how multilingual education in Africa, Asia and Latin America can be made possible.  The research focuses on two well-developed multi-lingual education projects run by Save the Children with local partners in Vietnam and Bangladesh as well as material from government-led projects in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in India.

Monday, February 21, 2011

[MLE] Today is Mother Language Day!

Dear MLE friends,
Congratulations, today is Mother Language Day! This occasion started in our neighbouring country, Bangladesh. Read more about how they are marking this day (including a summary of the history):

A UNESCO focussed press release is here:

Enjoy this day, talk about it will colleagues and celebrate your own Mother Tongue!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

[MLE] Local Languages in the Schools of Himachal

Dear MLE Friends ,

Some state governments take the language of instruction issue of the Right to Education Act quite seriously. According to the Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to have the teachers use the local languages in teaching the different subjects in the schools. If this is indeed going to get implemented that would be very innovative.
Books and articles
The site now has a separate page on MLE related books and articles. Check it out and let us know if relevant publications are missing.
See Full article in Hindi

Saturday, January 29, 2011

[MLE] New book on Language Policy and Linguistic Minorities in India

Dear MLE friends,

A new book is coming out which is focusing in the linguistic minorities in India and on the policies related to that in particular:

Language Policy and Linguistic Minorities in India: An Appraisal of the Linguistic Rights of Minorities in India
Thomas Benedikter

You might place an advanced booking as that will give you a good discount. See details below.

[MLE] EdQual research on Medium of Instruction

Dear MLE friends,

Research outside of the western countries on the impact of education in the mother tongue is much needed. Below are some links to research presently going on in Africa.
EdQual is a research project consortium funded by DfID, studying education quality in low-income countries. On 15 November, it reported to DfID and other interested agencies along with 2 other research project consortia. As part of the EdQual programme, colleagues from Ghana and Tanzania looked into issues of medium of instruction and its relation to quality of learning. If you are interested in interim findings to do with MoI and textbook accessibility, please use the following links:

Monday, January 24, 2011

[MLE] ASER Report

Dear MLE friends,

Each year ASER does extensive research on the impact that education makes. Their research data is highly valued, not only in the NGO world but also by the government itself.

The 2010 report shows as well progress as declines. The press report states regarding the reading skills:
Even after five years in school, close to half of all children are not even at the level expected of them after two years in school. Only 53.4% children in Std V could read a Std II level text.
The Calcutta edition of the Telegraph reports "Tribal heartland betters its report card", this is given as the reason:
Santhal Pargana Gram Rachna Sansthan, the NGO that helped in survey work in Godda, credited the district's performance to maximum involvement of para-teachers, school teachers and Integrated Child Development Services centres. These units, set up under a Centre-sponsored scheme, addresses health and nutrition needs of children in every village. "During the survey, we found out that contribution of local para-teachers towards development of reading and learning skills of children was immense," said in-charge of the NGO, Babita Singh. Echoing her, Gautam Sagar of Bokaro's Sahyogini added: "In the absence of regular government teachers, para-teachers have played a big role in increasing the students' interest level."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

[MLE] GEO article on "Unspoken Languages"

Dear MLE friends,

For most of us the preservation of languages is not the main reason to be interested in MLE. Still we do see the value of language in relation to culture. The January Issue of the Indian version of the magazine GEO has a cover story on "Unspoken tongues'. Some relevant quotes:
Few actually realise that languages are more than just a means of communication. They are emblematic of the way a people perceive the world and, thereby. offer a unique insight into the people who speak them and the cultures they represent. In the case of Bo and other Great Andamanese languages, they hold up a mirror to a tribal people whose culture dates back thousands of years.
Kanji Patel, a writer in Panchmahali Bhili, one of Gujarat's many endangered languages, says there are three fundamentals required to protect a language: "Teaching the language, publishing its literature, and spreading awareness of its existence among other language groups:'
The official neglect of many tribal languages in India has also pushed the Maoists to embrace them, in order to win over disaffected tribals. Gondi, a language spoken by over 2 million people but considered a 'non-scheduled' language, has been the medium of instruction for schools in regions under the control of Maoists in central India. Left far behind in this game of linguistic one-upmanship, the government of Chhattisgarh-where most Gondi speakers live and which has, until now, no textbook either for or in Gondi- produced this year, for the first time, textbooks to teach Gondi, Chhattisgarhi, Korku, Halbi and Surgujia languages in grades III, IV and V. Subhash Mishra, GM at the Chhattisgarh Textbook Corporation, hopes this will send a "positive message" to the tribals.[KvR: Does anybody have details on this?]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

[MLE] Professor Prasanna Sree has designed the script for 10 tribal languages (2)

Dear MLE friends,

Last July the list forwarded a news item from The Hindu on new tribal scripts. I just learned that last October also Outlook wrote an article on this. See: A quote:
“A script serves to legalise their language and protect their vast oral riches. But, more importantly, there is now a growing realisation that an indigenous, independent script also helps boost cultural identity,” says Sree. She uses easily identifiable symbols in her alphabets to strike a chord with the tribals. For example, an abstract bow and arrow is a motif in her script for the Kupias, who are renowned as skilled archers. New scripts are not for assertion of identity alone: they are also being created for accurately representing the unique sounds of tribal languages instead of letting them be drowned out, over time and through usage, by the superposition of an alien alphabet.
An other interesting comment:
"The Maoists, too, have begun work in this field. They are developing a script for Gondi, spoken widely in Maoist-dominated regions, to do away with the Devanagari script. They are also backing the Ol Chiki script for Santhali, seeing it as appealing to the sense of tribal identity."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

[MLE] NMRC Newsletter V; "as far as possible"

Dear MLE friends,

The National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium (NMRC) from JNU is producing a newsletter with quality articles on MLE. The latest newsletter is no exception on that. It does focus on the "as far as possible" phrase tagged to the mother tongue reference in the Right to Education act.  Some topics:
  • Prof Anvita Abbi : "Don't kill my Mother (tongue)"
  • Sara Poehlman: "Mother Tongue Instruction 'as far as practicable' as Child's' right"
  • Sara Poehlman: "Story telling for effective language transition in Assam Tea Gardens"
  • Sikshi Manocha: "Witnessing the change" (a powerful testimony on the impact of MLE in the Saora community in Orissa)

Monday, January 3, 2011

[MLE] Pakistan facing language 'crisis' in schools

Dear MLE friends,

It is not too often that we hear on MLE related issues from our North-Western neighbours. This article in the Guardian discusses a report stating that the Urdu and English dominance in the school "threatens to undermine social cohesion"
"The report's key proposal is to provide teaching to students in the language they are most familiar with and, for the first time, reflect Pakistan's multilingual identity in classrooms. There are more than 70 languages spoken in Pakistan, yet Urdu, the national language and the medium of instruction in the majority of state schools, is spoken by just 7% of the population."
Also good to note the following:
"Coleman says his "wish list" for education reform has been positively received inside Pakistan. He is now in the process of analysing feedback before presenting his final proposals next April."

[MLE] SC comparative research in B'desh

Dear MLE friends,
First of all a happy new year to you all. May 2011 bring improvement to the education situation of the many deprived children in South Asia!

"We need more research, more proof!" is what we often hear. Save the Children in Bangladesh did some research on the impact of an MLE project in the hill tribes. They published it in a 12 page report titled: "Getting ready for school in the Chittagong Hill Tracts:   A comparative analysis of mother-tongue- and national-language-based preschools in Adivasi communities".

A few lines from the concluding paragraph:
"Despite all of these limitations, it is clear from the study that SKPís mother-tongue-based preschools do offer children a significant advantage.  SKP children have better quantitative, communicative, and environmental skills than their peers.  On average, children learning in a MT setting outperformed their non-MT peers by 10 percentage points on a general school readiness assessment and 5 percentage points on an assessment of concepts about print. (...)  "