Saturday, May 1, 2010

Indigenous children's education: E-book

Indigenous Children’s Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime Against Humanity? A Global View by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Robert Dunbar has just been published as an e-book by the resource-rich website Gáldu, the Norwegian Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. From the preface:

As the title shows, the book argues that past and present Indigenous/Tribal and minority education, where children have a dominant language [non-mother-tongue] as the main instruction language in school, can be legally seen as a crime against humanity, according to relevant international instruments. This subtractive education teaches children (some of) the dominant language at the cost of their Indigenous mother tongues. It contributes to language shift, and thus to the disappearance of the world's linguistic diversity (and through this, also disappearance of biodiversity).

I found most interesting section 8.1.3 (p. 96) "Presentation of some concrete positive projects":

"First, evaluations of two central large-scale USA studies..., two small-scale studies (one Indigenous, from India and one immigrant minority study from Sweden...), and two large-scale African studies (dominated majorities, from Ethiopia and Burkina Faso...) will be summarised."

And the authors' eight recommendations:

1. The mother tongue should be the main teaching language for the first eight years.

2. Good teaching of a dominant local or national language as a subject.

3. Transition from mother tongue medium teaching to using a dominant local or national language as a teaching language.

4. Additional languages as subjects.

5. Context-sensitive cultural content and methods.

6. Well-trained bi- or multilingual teachers.

7. ITM parents and communities, and educational authorities need enough research-based knowledge about educational choices. Advocacy for sound models is necessary.

8. Systemic changes in school and society are needed to increase access to quality education. This includes knowledge about how the present system harms humanity.


neil.nachum said...

Thank you for the interesting update on langauge rights. I hope to right to the author as well at his Esperanto site.

Alamgir Mirza said...

Great contribution!