Monday, April 15, 2019

Multilingual Education in South Asia - Unicef Report

Early Literacy and Multilingual Education in South Asia” (2019) analyses the varying language situations in South Asia and the existing policies and practices of using languages as medium of instruction (MoI) and as subjects in primary education curriculum. The report's author is Dhir Jhingran of the Language and Learning Foundation. The report concludes that "improving early literacy teaching and learning, and including non-dominant children’s languages in the teaching and learning at primary level, are two of the most important initiatives for ensuring inclusive and equitable student learning" (p. 6).

Here is a chapter-outline of the report (adapted from pp. 5-6):

Chapter 1 presents the rationale for using children’s first language as the medium of instruction. It lays out the principles of language learning, including learning of an unfamiliar language.

Chapter 2 provides a review of learning outcomes of language and literacy in eight countries -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Chapter 3 reviews the language speech patterns and linguistic diversity and complex sociolinguistic situations in each country, including the hierarchy between languages. The issue of the high value attached to learning English and also instruction through the medium of English is discussed.

Chapter 4 presents a typology of school-level sociolinguistic situations commonly found in the region. The approaches of bilingual and multilingual education are introduced. Introduction of non-dominant languages as mediums of instruction requires intense preparation. More importantly, this requires a shift in mindset and attitudes towards these languages and cultures.

Chapter 5 outlines two case studies of mother-tongue-based multilingual education from India and Nepal.

Chapter 6 makes recommendations for policies and programmes for supporting children’s language and literacy learning.

As the report wisely notes: "Prescriptive formulations of policy and programmes will not be effective where language situations are fluid and diverse. The bottom line for any flexible language-in-education policy or programme should be that children’s linguistic and cultural resources must be valued and used" (p. 2).

Hope practitioners, policy makers and educators often return to this report for possibilities and direction!

Citation: Jhingran, D., Early Literacy and Multilingual Education in South Asia, United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office for South Asia, Kathmandu, 2019.

2 comments:

lillywillams said...

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