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. "

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MLE; Teaching in the tribal languages of Assam

 
 

National Geographic Reports on MLE in Assam

National Geographic published last month a brief article on the multilingual educations program the NGO PAJHRA  is doing among the tea planters in Assam.

 
The article titled "A Talk over Tea: Preserving India's Indigenous Languages" states:
"
Although Adivasis account for about 20 percent of the population, most local schools do not teach in Adivasi languages. Dropout rates are high, while literacy rates are low. To address these challenges, an organization called PAJHRA (Promotion & Advancement of Justice, Harmony, and Rights of Adivasis) is working with the community to promote and preserve their languages. "

About the teaching activities it states:
"
The project team developed, printed, and distributed 300 copies of an Adivasi alphabet book and 35 copies of an Adivasi storybook. Collaborative community meetings at Ananda Tea Estate helped the workers there lobby for the creation of Adivasi school houses."

Good to note that these type of activities are published and funded by National Geographic. Thanks to Luke Horo for the tip!