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. (...)  "