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.