Friday, March 23, 2012

[MLE] Article "Linguistic imperialism alive and kicking"

Dear Multilingual Education friends,

The British Council, as well as some US agencies,  are active in south Asia and other places promoting the use of the English language in the classroom. A recent article by Robert Phillipson in The Guardian titled "Linguistic imperialism alive and kicking"  is criticising this as "undermining multilingualism and education opportunities". Some quotes:

The myth is the belief that studying English is all you need for success in life. Policies influenced by this myth prevent most children from accessing relevant education.

Is Anglo-American expertise really relevant in all such contexts? In fact educational "aid" worldwide does not have a strong record of success. There is scholarly evidence, for instance from Spain, that primary English is not an unmitigated success story: quite the opposite.

Governments have tended to clutch at a quick fix, such as importing native speakers, or starting English ever earlier, either as a subject or as the medium of instruction, in the hope that this will make the learning of English more effective. Such demands should be challenged by ELT when both the demand and the response are unlikely to be educationally, culturally or linguistically well-informed.

As many states in India are pushing for English,  this is a very relevant debate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

[MLE] A critical report on the RTE progress

Dear MLE friends,

In April it will be two years since the the Right to Education (RTE) Act was introduced. Forward Press Magazine published a critical article on the progress made thus far:  A Fundamental Wrong: Education for too Few.

The author, Suzana Andrade, makes an interesting comparison with Finland were they also implemented a major education transform several years back: "In 1971, Finland's government realised that the only way to modernise its economy and compete in an increased competitive world was to transform its basic education. According to a recent article in The Atlantic magazine, the secret to Finland's success is that the goal they pursued was not excellence, but equity". On India: "Today, though the policies and rhetoric have changed, the underlying worldview remains: our society continues to prioritise a few and exclude the rest".

Friday, March 2, 2012

[MLE] A thorough paper on the MLE program in Orissa/Odisha

Dear MLE friends,

I don't think I have ever come across such an extensive analyses of the MLE programme in Orissa as the one from Dr Urmishree Bedamatta presented at the 2nd Philippine Conference Workshop on Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education  held February 16-18, 2012 titled:


The author does base her analyses on field visits, interviews and a wide range of literature study. Her analyses is critical. The abstract states:
The analysis of the MLE programme with reference to classroom transaction, the teacher and the teaching learning materials led to the following conclusions: (a) the use of the mother tongue is a strategy to improve statistics on access with little concern for retention, (b) the use of the mother tongue does not guarantee the use of local cultural knowledge for academic learning, (c) local cultural knowledge is transformed to assimilate with knowledge legitimised in the curriculum, and, (d) the role of the teacher as an agent of change is ignored: the ‘MLE teacher’ is a means to cope with teacher shortage in the tribal areas. The mother tongue in the MLE programme thus faces the threat of being an instrument ‘in the service of an institutional cause’.