Saturday, October 30, 2010

[MLE] Report on a well functioning MLE project in Orissa

Dear MLE friends,
It is not often that I write something on this list about a personal experience. But I am so enthusiastic about an MLE programme I visited last week as an external evaluator, that I would like to share about it.

Two of my assumptions were challenged. 1. NGOs do adult education; governments do primary education. 2. NGOs and government schools are in competition with each other. Doubly wrong! Here was an NGO successfully strengthening the primary schools in the villages by running MLE classes for children. The NGO, Asha Kiran Society, Lamptaput, Orissa, is running MLE classes in 15 villages. I visited 4 villages, observed classes and talked extensively with the village leaders.

Sitting under a tree talking with the villagers, I asked them if the teachers of the MLE programme do actually show up. A whole choir of voices responded with an “Of course”. They explained that the MLE teachers even ask permission from their Village Education Committee if they need to be absent for a day. Otherwise, they are there every day. Several wanted to speak up when I asked if they liked the programme: “Our children learn our own language, our own customs and stories”. “Our children are eager to attend school and take a bath and wash their hands on their own initiative”, etc. The class observations confirmed this. I observed maths games, big book reading, creative writing, singing, dancing, etc. The children were present and engaged. The drop-out rates, even after three years,were low.
There were challenges, too. In one village it was very hard to find an educated person to do the teaching. The new teacher, whose formal education stopped after 9th, had difficulty himself in reading the big book. In some places the villagers have a hard time to provide a meeting place. We sometimes felt that the independent reading could be better.

Several village education committees shared with me that before the NGO MLE programme started the government school teachers would hardly ever show up and, if they were there, would not do much teaching. But, when the MLE classes started running before or after school hours, the MLE programme started to positively influence the government school. Parents and children put more pressure on the teachers to come and teach. Teachers started to note that the children became more “teachable”.

Monday, October 25, 2010

[MLE] Q-A brochure from the Philippines

Dear MLE friends,
Question-Answer type of leaflets can be very helpful in interacting with Government officials and NGO leaders. Attached is an A4 size simple 20 point brochure to explain MLE in the Philippines context. Most points also apply to India.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

[MLE] New book "Multilingual Education Works: From the Periphery to the Centre"

Dear MLE friends,

Good books that are affordable are rare. Fortunately the authors/editors of the latest book on MLE, K. Heugh & T. Skutnabb-Kangas, choose India as the place to publish. Give the impressive list of authors, Dr Ajit Mohanty being one of them, content wise it will be good too.  More details below.

Friday, October 1, 2010

[MLE] Using Same Language Subtitles to boost literacy ability

Dear MLE friends,

Subtitling a television programme resulting in significant  increase of literacy rates, sounds too nice to be true, but it seems to be happening:

"India’s public karaoke-for-literacy experiment is the only one of its kind in the world. Technically known as same-language subtitling, or SLS, it manages to reach 200 million viewers across 10 states every week. In the last nine years, functional literacy in areas with SLS access has more than doubled. And the subtitles have acted as a catalyst to quadruple the rate at which completely illiterate adults become proficient readers."

Even if the claim would be a bit optimistic, the article is worth reading. Combining mass entertainment with learning is very attractive. Of course this works in the first place for state languages, but also in some of the bigger unrecognised languages videos are produced and are very popular (Kumauni, Garhwali, etc). It would be very interesting to convince the movie makers to subtitle the videos in those respective languages and see if that would change the socio-linguistic dynamics and literacy factors.

As a Dutch I was also interested in the reference to Finland where English movies are NOT voiced over, but subtitled. That is how I grew up: the Flintstones and Garfield did not speak Dutch but English and we followed the story by reading the subtitles. This research suggests that such approach is actually a boost for fluency reading. I never realised that!

Friday, September 24, 2010

[MLE] Young Lives Project--long-term international research project

Dear MLE friends,

Long term impact is what really matters. However longitudinal  research is rare. The  Young Lives Project  is a long-term international research project"investigating the changing nature of childhood poverty". India has been chosen as one of their focus countries. The question is asked: "What does the future hold for the 2000 Young Lives index children born in the state of Andhra Pradesh?". As mother tongue is part of the data documented, this research is also relevant to language and education issues.

Some findings of the 2008 second round of survey in India
"We  found  that  household  and  community characteristics  greatly  influence  children’s  outcomes, particularly ethnicity, the rural-urban divide (which affects access to services among other things) and parents’  levels  of  education.  Household wealth  is  an  important  determinant  of  child  outcomes.Interestingly, maternal education has a stronger impact on nutrition,while the father’s education is a more important determinant of enrolment.   "

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

[MLE]: Pre-registration for International Conference on Language, Education and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 9-11 November


Dear MLE friends,

Attached is more info about the registration for the the November Bangkok Conference on the millennium goals in relation to language and education. Some explanation is below.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

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

Dear MLE friends,

Ten more scripts in India! All designed by Professor Prasanna Sree, senior professor, Department of English, Andhra University. See newspaper item copied below or click this link:

I am not sure it will be of real help and meeting a need, but it is for sure an interesting initiative. Unlike as in e.g. Europe in India script and language are strongly related. Many do not perceive their language as a proper "language" if it does not have a distinct script. However from a pedagogical viewpoint a separate script is a headage as for the learning children.  The transition from the local language to the language of wider communication will be hampered.