Thursday, October 24, 2013

[MLE] UN launches essay contest to celebrate multilingualism

Dear multilingual education friends,

The United Nations is encouraging college and university students to write an essay in one of its six official languages on the role of multilingualism in a globalized world. To qualify, the student’s native language has to be different from the one in which he or she writes, and different from the principal one at the school. The contest is called "Many languages, one world’.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

[MLE] ECCE- Article: The Word and the World

Dear MultiLingual Education friends,

Against the backdrop of the new Early Childhood Care and Education policies Prof Shivali Tukdeo recently wrote an article in the Indian Express titled The Word and the World . A few quotes:
The inclusion of home or local languages in preschool is a step in the right direction, for educational as well as social reasons.

Evidence-based studies on early childhood and research in educational psychology and cognition suggest that exposure to multiple languages can facilitate early development.
Given the interactive nature of early learning, home languages and local vernaculars would be excellent resources to introduce the child to the rhymes, rhythms and stories of a world that she inhabits. With the inclusion of mother tongues and local vernaculars in preschools, many neighbourhoods and localities, with their different stories, will enter the realm of school.
If the responses to the recent textbooks in Santhali, Gondi and Kok Barok are any indication, Adivasi children want to see their languages in school. The development of local languages as languages of knowledge production and dissemination will be crucial in democratising our education.
The language debate would be more productive if it were not framed within the binaries of either-or. The proposal to introduce mother tongues or home languages is not against English, and should not be taken to be so.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

[MLE] NMRC Conference "Whither MLE?"; Delhi, JNU, Nov 21-23

Dear MLE friends,

Just after the MLE conference in Thailand at which several people from India will participate, there will also be an MLE conference in India organised by the National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium (NMRC). The conference is titled "Whither MLE? Rethinking MultiLingual Education in the 21st century".

A quote from the Conference website:
This conference, "Whither MLE?" will therefore attempt to revisit our assumptions of a modern Global Indian state and Indian education in 21st century against the constitutional debates, the NCF2005 and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan where MLE is implemented as an innovation program for tribal children. Can we imagine a post colonial, post modern Indian state without recognizing and building on the multilinguality of Indian and World communities? Shouldn't subaltern discourse inform the entire school education practice of India? Shouldn't all schools including the ECCE centers have a multilingual pedagogy that builds on the home languages of the children? Analysis of these issues will provide a fresh paradigm for examining the reasons for marginality of the hitherto run MLE programs in Indian schools and the inadequacy and in-egalitarian nature of the universal school education system in India. This conference will create a layered discussion on each of these issues, reflect critically on the MLE programmes and practices in Indian school and develop an agenda for implementing MLE in all schools in future.
The following themes will be covered:
  1. Taking Stock: Current MLE Research and Programs in India
  2. MLE Policy and Advocacy
  3. MLE Strategies and Innovations
  4. Pedagogic Practices, Teacher Training and Capacity Building for MLE
  5. Networking and Partnership in MLE research and Programs
  6. Future of MLE in India
  7. RTE Act 2009 and Multilingual Education
  8. Planning for SAARC level conference on MLE in November 2014

Monday, September 23, 2013

[MLE-ECCE] National ECCE policy approved

Dear "multilingual education" and "early childhood education" friends,

Congratulations, the union cabinet the other day approved the National ECCE policy. The official press statement you can read here:  National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy. The policy is strong on the use of the mother tongue of the children. In the press this is mentioned, but does not get major attention. The article "Govt fixes size, language, nap time for playschools" in the Times of India e.g  simply states: "The norms also specify that the primary medium of instruction will be mother tongue or local language". Maybe later, one of the quality news magazines will zoom in to the issue. For now we can celebrate with this milestone!

Monday, September 16, 2013

[MLE] : The ECCE has hit the press

Dear multilingual education friends,

Several of us have had input in the drafting of the Early Childhood Care and Education policy (ECCE) on request by the Women and Child Development Ministry.  It clearly states at several places that the use of the mother tongue of the children is the preferred medium. E.g.:
The mother tongue or home language of the child will be the primary language of interaction in the ECCE programmes. However, given the young child‟s ability at this age to learn many languages, exposure to the national/regional language and English in oral form as required, will also be explored.
This weekend the policy hit the press with the language issue in focus. Yesterday on the front page of the Delhi version of the  Indian Express was an article titled: "Govt wants Playschools to mind Language, go Vernacular" and today a similar article was published: Speaking in Tongues.

Unfortunately, as newspapers tend to do, the articles look for controversy rather than consensus.  The articles contrasts the use of the vernacular with English instead of emphasising that the policy, at least from my perspective, tries to keep them in parallel. Let us see if other media will be picking this up also and report on it in a more balanced fashion. (Note: Last week The Times of India had an article on  Centre plans to regulate playschools, creches, which did not mention the language issue at all!)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

[MLE] Outlook article on PLSI points out the value of MLE

Dear Multilingual Education friends,

This week there are lots of articles in the media about the language situation in India because of the release of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) results. The Outlook Article: Speaking of us links the issue of language loss and language celebration to the need for multilingual education. It starts with touching story about a tribal girl getting a second chance in a multilingual school in Gujarat after she failed in the regular system:
“Why did you not learn anything at school?” Chaudhary Rekha, the teacher, asks. ... “Because our teacher, whenever he came, always taught in Gujarati,” she says softly in Dungra Bhili. A year at the Tejgadh-based Adi­vasi Academy’s Vasant Bahubhashi Shala has changed that. She can now read and write with much greater fluency. And all thanks to classes in a language she can finally understand.
Some other quotes:
Those who have worked for the PLSI agree that offering multilingual education, something few states practise with either dedication or efficiency, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to protect our lesser-known languages in the long run. One of the many formal suggestions the PLSI intends to make to the government includes a pitch to facilitate optional education in a child’s mother tongue at the primary level. “We have somehow remained stuck with the notion that schools can teach only in one language, whereas we need multilingual schools that use many languages as the medium of instruction,” says Devy.

This multilingual model is something the Adivasi Academy in Baroda district has adopted in over 60 special training centres. Here, students are taught Gujarati in their mother tongue (mostly Dungra Bhili and Rathawi) before they head out to their schools later in the day so that they do not fall behind in their  classes.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

[MLE] We are just a few steps away from making mother tongue based early childhood education a reality for 1.4 million tribal children in Odisha

Dear multilingual Education friends,

"We are just a few steps away from making mother tongue based early childhood education a reality for 1.4 million tribal children in Odisha" is quite a bold statement coming from State Convener of Odisha Adivasi Manch Ido Manda in presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. It was said at the occasion of the launching of a  Mother Tongue based Multilingual Early Childhood Education Learning Laboratory, a collaborative effort of KISS and Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF). A few quotes from The Indian Express  article title Multilingual Education Launched.:
The CM also reiterated his Government’s commitment to make quality early childhood education in mother tongue a reality for 1.4 million tribal children of the State.

The Early Childhood Development Programme through Mother Tongue based Multilingual Learning Education (MLE) is the first programme of its type in India and is instituted by KISS on its premises jointly with The Netherland-based Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF).

Steps such as regular training of the anganwadi worker and recruitment of teachers from the tribal community would benefit the process, she [Achyuta Samanta]  said and hoped that Odisha would become the first State in the country to have a policy on mother tongue-based multi-lingual early childhood education for its indigenous children.