Monday, December 14, 2015

[MLE] Policy Brief - Reading Solutions for girls

Policy Brief - Reading Solutions for girls in a multilingual setting

 

The 2015 Echidna Global Scholars Policy Brief has this year been titled Reading solutions for girls; Combating social, pedagogical, and systemic issues for tribal girls' multilingual education in India.
 


The 28 page Policy Brief has been written by Suman Sachdeva, Technical Director Education, CARE India. Here are a few highlights taken from a summary on the brooking website:
  • The current approach to delivering effective multilingual education (MLE) for tribal students where tribal populations are more than 30 percent of the local population and where there are more than three dialects is inadequate overall and ignores gender-specific educational challenges.
  • Although evidence suggests there is a small gender gap in reading ability between tribal girls and boys, in general girls are more heavily impacted by inadequate language skills in the short and long term as they become more vulnerable to drop out and thus unable to complete a full course of education.
  • To address the shortcomings of the current MLE approach, policymakers must look into the social, pedagogical, and systemic barriers tribal girls face when impeded from acquiring reading skills
The paper ends with six "Solutions for Girls' reading", which gives some good recommandations. Obviously a must-read for those of us involved in tribal education and gender!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

[MLE] Textbooks in five tribal langauges in Jharkhand

Textbooks in Jharkhand

Earlier this week the governor of Jharkhand pleaded that Santhali children should be educated in their mother tongue. It looks like this is indeed going to happen and not only for Santhali, but also Mundari, Ho, Kudukh and Kharia children .


The Telegraph reports this week: Ethnic kids of Classes I & II to open new page next year. Binay Pattanayak and his team at the Unicef Jharkhand office has been working closely with the Jharkhand Council for Education, Research and Training (JCERT) to prepare textbooks for langauge and maths for class 1 and 2 in five tribal langauges. The plan is that they will be introduced from the next academic session onwards.

Monday, November 30, 2015

[MLE] British Council Conference on Multilingualism

Delhi Conference on Multilingualism and Development

Last week the British Council India hosted the 11th Language and Development Conference on Multilingualism and Development in Delhi.


The Statemam  published this week an article with highlights of the conference Of course there was quite some attention given to the role that English plays in the sociolinguistic arena india. Prof Ajit Mohanty spoke in that regard about  "a double divide: one between the elitist language of power and the major regional languages (vernaculars) and, the other, between the regional languages and the dominated indigenous languages."

While talking about the promises the parents are given while enrolling their children in private English medium schools, Giridhar Rao of Azim Premji University, "argued that it is a false promise for two reasons. The first is the poor condition of the education system in the country. ... private schools do not give better academic results compared to government schools. The second reason, according to Rao, is that the introduction and teaching of English do not emerge out of a mother-tongue-based multi-lingual education."

Relevant was also a presentations  by Seemita Mohanty, National Institute of Technology, on Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in the Indian State of Odisha.. She concluded: "Even though the programme is progressing on the right track, there are still numerous issues that need to be handled at the implementation level before it can be designated a success."

Not to often we hear about the particular linguistic needs of Moslim learners. Sajida Sultana, English and Foreign Languages University, presented on Muslim Education and Multilingual Contexts: A Study of Madrasas in Hyderabad. It focused on the multi-lingual context of madrasa education and concluded that "there is a need to have a greater understanding of madrasa education and also to relate research insights into curricular innovations in the teaching of English in non-native contexts."

Many more presentation were given. The British Council website reports: "The event was the largest of the conference series so far, attracting over 260 participants and with a programme of more than sixty sessions. Over 30 countries were represented, from Afghanistan to South Africa, Bhutan to the Philippines."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

[MLE] Pratham: Weave your own story in any language

A Book in Every Hand

Last month Pratham Books, a UNICEF founded NGO, released more than 800 books in 27 languages on the StoryWeaver India website. Anyone can add, translate or read books there.

 

The Indian Express reports in the article A book in every hand: Pratham Books wants to make reading fun and accessible for children that a week after releasing the website https://storyweaver.org.in/ there were 800+ books and 20,000 reads. Currently the teller is on nearly 35000 reads and the site has over 900 stories in 27 languages. Till now the languages listed are mainly state or foreign languages, but it is likely possible to translate to or write in any langauge. Worth trying!
There are some differences and similarities with the software BLOOM that recently won the Enabling Writers competition (see Blog Post from last June). Bloom can be used off line and is focussed on creating books for paper publishing while Story Weaver is particularly good at web publication. They both work well together, see e.g. the book "Listen to my body".

Friday, July 24, 2015

[MLE] Local languages taught in Uttarakhand

Kumauni & Gharwali taught at schools in Uttarakhand

Photo: http://www.shaktihimalaya.com/
 

The government of Uttarakhand has decided to have the two major vernacular languages of the state, Kumauni and Gharwali, taught at all the primary schools.


The article "Grads in Kumaoni, Garhwali may be taken as primary, junior school teachers"  in the Times of India presents it an an employment opportunity, but it seems much more than that.  The article quotes Prof Dr.. S.S. Bisht saying: ""This is very good news for us, as teaching the languages to students from class I will help revive not only the dialects but also their associated cultures," Interestingly now the state is struggling to find enough qualified teachers to implement this: "It will be difficult to meet such a high demand in so short time. However, from this academic year, we have introduced options to study the language as an elective or as a single-subject course to increase the number of students,"

For me personally this is fun news as we lived in the Kumaun for many years and Dr Bisht was our neighbor. Congratulations, Dr Bisht for your hard work!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

[MLE] Bloom - Software to make reading materials

Software to build a Community Library

 

Just making a reading method for children in minortity language communities is not enough. They need books to read, many books! BLOOM software was recently selected as one of the three finalists in an "All Children Reading" software contest.


Bloom is a low-tech piece of sofware that helps with making books in any language. The website states:
  • "Bloom dramatically lowers the bar, so that many more people can get involved in building a large collection of local language books. Bloom was designed with new computer users in mind, and it has special features to guide them in simple book making, so people need far less training than alternatives such as Word, Publisher, or In Design."
I have heard from several people that BLOOM can handle non-Roman Scripts, but more than that, I learned that their helpdesk is very responsive when you happen to encounter a problem. Bloom has started a Bloom library in which you can share your books so that others can benefit from them. You as user can also benefit from the more than 150 books already in the library and can adjust them to the local situation.

Bloom links to the The Art of Reading which gives you access to over 10,000 black & white illustrations from around the world.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

[MLE] British Council: Language and Development Conference


Conference on Multilingualism and Development

 

As part of the series of conferences on Language and Development the Britisch Council is this year organising a conference in Delhi on Multilingualism and Development

 
The Website of the Britisch Council states: "The Language and Development series is a conference held every two years that explores the role of language in development. It addresses the issues of world, national, second and minority languages and the role they play in economic, social and cultural development; language policy, conflict transformation, language rights and identity; communication, education and development and language pedagogy.

The Subthemes listed for this particular conference are:
  • Multilingualism and the metropolis
  • Language, technology and multi-literacies
  • Multilingualism, marginalisation and empowerment
Several of the topics listed under each subtheme are related to education.

This 11th International Language and Development Conference is  scheduled to be held in New Delhi, as a three day event for 250 participants from 18 - 20 November 2015.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

[MLE] Language 4x in the news this week





                
 

Language Debate

Language and Education in the news

There is quite some attention for the issue of language in the educational system these days. MHRD,  NCERT, the RSS and the Odisha government were all in the news this week.

 
In the debate about needed educational reforms, the ministry of education takes on the issue of language and the three language formula in particular. Read more in the article: 3rd and foreign language: HRD opens to debate. Quote: "The note also emphasises the importance of "mother tongue-based" education. "While there are some interventions for appointment of language teachers and promotion of classical languages, there is no comprehensive scheme or language policy and we need to have inputs on this dimension," it says."

The press also reports that the Hindu right-wing nationalist organisation RSS made some pro-mothertongue statements : "RSS on Sunday asked the BJP-led Union government and those in states to impart education in the mother tongue of students or constitutionally recognised state languages, saying those educated in a foreign language get "alienated" from their culture and tradition."

In the mean time the Business Standard reports that NCERT held a conference on Inclusion at which multilinguaal education was prominently on the agenda: "The need for inclusion of multilingual education in various courses was among several issues deliberated at a NCERT-organised conference here." (See Conference Brochure).

Last but not at least the Odisha Channel reports on a state level consultation organised by Sikshasandhan in collaboration with Oxfam. As expected a strong support for education of the mothertongue was endorsed.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

[MLE] Outlook: In Bastar district kids do not understand their teacher





Outlook reports on language issues in Maoist areas
                        

Dhurwa children at a government school in Permaras

Outlook reporter explores the language factor in Maoist conflict

Debarshi Dasgupta describes himself as a "media fellow exploring linguistic aspects of the Maoist conflict". In that context he looks at schools and at what language goverenment officials use in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh.

 
In the artucle Black Chalk on Board, which will appear in this weeks' issue of Outlook, he explores the case of a eight year old boy, Sundar, from the Dhurwi tribe who after three years of schooling still does not understand a word of his teacher's Hindi:
"Sundar is a good example of how a poorly run education system and a blinkered resolve to teach only Hindi at the primary level, can spawn chronic illiteracy amongst the perfectly able. Chhatt­i­sgarh's tribal children have ended up being a mute lot, overwhelmed by a lan­g­uage they don't understand and intimidated by non-tribal teachers who take them to task if they use their own."
In the article he builds a strong case for the use of the tribal languages in the class and also discusses some of the citics.

In the aricle Language of the Land he critisizes the government for not making it mandatory for officers working in that region to learn a local language. He contrast that with the Maoist whose leaders do make it a point to use the tribal langiuage:
"It is through dedicated linguistic outreach that the Maoists have accentuated their proximity to adivasis and their faith in the tribal cause. Top commanders have acquired near-native skills in Gondi, spoken widely by marginalised tribals in south Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas. Even those Maoists from other tribal communities, including foot soldiers, have had to learn Gondi. "
He concludes:
"Perception matters a lot in this ongoing battle for minds, and being perceived as unfriendly to tribal languages and cultures is one that continues to cost the state dear in this conflict."

Friday, March 13, 2015

[MLE] FRAME India research report or reading acquisition





Report on research on reading acquisition in AP and Karnataka
                        

Classroom smiles

FRAME-India - Final Report

The Facilitating Reading Acquisition in Multilingual Environments in India (FRAME-India) report claims to be the first pre-intervention research for developing a theory of change that is relevant for multilingual learners in the developing world.

 
The FRAME final report announcement gives a general overview of the research which was conducted in Andra Pradesh and Karnataka and focussed on the interplay between English and the state languages in the class rooms. The report itself is 60 pages and has a nice 3 page Executive Summary in the beginning. Some quotes from the findings:
  • Lit 1 decoding (i.e., Kannada or Telugu decoding scores) was one of the strongest independent predictors of Lit 2 English decoding, suggesting that for English decoding success, a child must have a certain degree of proficiency in their first literacy
  • this is the first study that provides an empirical threshold point of approximately 60%, at which Lit 1 decoding ability substantively and significantly increases the likelihood of "transfer" of knowledge to Lit 2 decoding for effective biliteracy outcomes.
Some quotes from the recommandations:
  • It is important to sequence reading subskills in Lit 1 alphasyllabic and Lit 2 alphabetic languages in ways that are reflective of the scripts, and in a way that incorporates "transfer" of Lit 1 skills for reading gains in both languages.
  • For improving reading skills in Lit 1 and English, it may be beneficial not to introduce English decoding instruction until the child has achieved the necessary threshold value of Lit 1 decoding skills.

Monday, February 23, 2015

[MLE] Congrats with Mother Language Day!

2015 Mother Language Day

Every year after Feb 21st, the International Mother Language Day, it is fun to surf the internet to see what is done in India to celebrate the languages that the children speak at home.

 
This year the United Nations has put the spotlights on the educational aspect of celebrating the mother tongue:
"International Mother Language Day is a moment for all of us to raise the flag for the importance of mother tongue to all educational efforts, to enhance the quality of learning and to reach the unreached. Every girl and boy, every woman and man must have the tools to participate fully in the lives of their societies – this is a basic human right and it is a force for the sustainability of all development" (UN Source)

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has send a notice to the English medium schools affiliated with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to mark the occasion with celebrations and contests. The notice reads:
"It has been decided to celebrate Matribhasha Diwas to promote the use and to sensitize people about the need of greater use of mother tongue and other Indian languages for progress of the nation, to impart communication skills and proficiency in mother tongue and other Indian languages amongst English-medium students, to support translations from other languages into mother tongue, to give fillip to popularize adaptation of latest technologies for Indian languages and to encourage people to learn one more Indian language."
However given the late date this was send and the fact that it coincided with exam dates the Times of India reports that it is not likely that many schools will have done anything with the notice.

The Indian blogger Sucharita Sen writes:
"While UN takes its own initiatives to bring about language awareness and tolerance, can we not come together to celebrate our own mother tongue, India being such a rich and diversified sub-continent?"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

[MLE] MLE promoted at the State Vision Conclave in Jharkhand


 

Pioneer Article

State Vision Conclave in Ranchi promotes MLE

According to the ASER-2014 report only 1/3 of the grade V children in Jharkhand can comprehend a grade V text. The State Vision Conclave points at language as being a cause for this problem.

 
On 29 January 2015 the Jharkhand government in coopretion with UNICEF conducted a state Vision Conclave at Ranchi, Jharkhand. The new Chief Minister of Jharkhand also participated in the conclave other than several senior officials from govt., more than 25 NGOs, several corporates, language experts and other experts on child development.
 
Dhir Jhingran, in the Education Session, spoke about the need for Mother Tongue based MLE in Jharkhand.The Pioneer reported on his presentation by publishing the following article: 'Mother tongue based multilingual education needed in Jharkhand'

A quote:
According to experts, Santahli speaking children of Dumka and Pakur, Ho speaking children of West Singhbhum, Mundari speaking children of Khunti and Kudukh speaking children of Gumla could learn very fast if the medium of education is their mother tongue. Experts opine that the process can be started on a pilot basis if it cannot be implement at the same time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[MLE] Good news from Nepal


                                 

Nepal reports positive effects from local language classes

Only a few months ago the Nepal press reported negatively about the multilingual education programs. But this time is different.

The article Start of native language classes ups enrolment states: "According to the District Education Office (DEO), the use of native language has not only proved effective but also helped increase the quality of education."

Fun to read that in this Magar community the program has motivated the parents to send their children to school. If the claims stated by the headmasters and government officials are true, it looks bright for this program. The article also gives some context: "Starting in 2007, the government introduced education on mother tongue in Tamang, Athpahariya, Dhut Magar, Santhali, Rajbansi, Uraw and Rana Tharu languages in seven schools from Rasuwa, Dhankuta, Palpa, Jhapa, Sunsari and Kanchanpur districts.The School Sector Reform Programme has also adopted education in mother tongue and has a plan to introduce it in 7,500 schools by the end of 2015. "