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Current Language Development, Language Revitalization and Multilingual Education Activities

The following is a list of language development, language revitalization and multilingual education activities:
Language Development Workshops: Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development (ILCRD), Mahidol University—Bangkok, Thailand
Education for Indigenous Children (EIC) Programme: BRAC, Bangladesh
Language Development Program: Iranun Language Community, Sabah, Malaysia
Longitudinal Study Project: SIL International—Asia
Seminar on Language Development in India: SIL International and UNESCO
Multilingual Education Program: Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute, India
Action Research Project among the Pwo Karen: Office of Non-Formal Education Commission, Thailand
UNESCO position paper on language education
Seminar on Community-Based Inclusive Education for Language Groups of Nepal

Language Development Workshops: Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development (ILCRD), Mahidol University—Bangkok, Thailand
The Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development (ILCRD) has established a Resource Center for Revitalization and Maintenance of Endangered Languages and Cultures in Thailand. The purposes of the Resource Center are 1) to document various aspects of endangered languages and cultures; 2) to organize language revitalization activities such as orthography development, writer’s workshops, and dictionary development workshops for interested language groups; 3) to publish reports on workshops and on other language revitalization activities; and 4) to act as consultant for native speakers of endangered ethnolinguistic groups who need help.

Staff of the new Resource Center are currently conducting language development workshops for several minority language groups that have requested help in developing orthographies. Thai-based orthography development workshops are being conducted for Nyah Kur, Lawa (Gong), and So (Thavung). This program includes initial orthography testing in the language community and holding writer's workshops for the development of local language literature and educational materials. For more information on the ILCRD’s language development and language revitalization activities , contact lcspm@mucc.mahidol.ac.th.

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Education for Indigenous Children (EIC) Programme: BRAC, Bangladesh
In 2001, BRAC, a large NGO in Bangladesh, initiated a program of “Education for Indigenous Children” within its Non-Formal Education Program (NFEP) in Bangladesh (over 30,000 classes). The program was established to meet the specific educational needs of the indigenous communities. According to a recent report (Natalie Poulson (2004). Many peoples, many voices. A case study of BRAC’s Education for Indigenous Children Programme) the purposes of the program are 1) to strengthen the identity and self-esteem of indigenous children by affirming their cultural heritage and language; 2) increase enrollment of indigenous children in primary and secondary education; 3) help indigenous children succeed in the Bangla education system (BRAC and government schools) without sacrificing their own heritage language and culture; and 4) create a positive attitude among the mainstream Bengali population towards indigenous peoples.

A Core Group, composed of members of the ethnic minority communities as well as Bengali staff, has been established to facilitate communication between BRAC headquarters in Dhaka and the field.

As of 2004, BRAC has established 968 NFPE 1-room schools and 175 pre-primary classes for over 20,000 indigenous children in thirty communities. In each school, the children’s Mother Tongue is used as the medium of instruction in the classroom. Teaching and reading materials are produced locally and focus on the children’s heritage culture and their everyday experiences. Indigenous teachers receive pre-service and regular in-service training as well as stipends, which enable them to continue their own post-primary education. The program also includes sensitization of Bengali students, staff and members of the majority society. For more information about BRAC’s programs with minority language learners, contact eic@brac.net.

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Language Development Program: Iranun Language Community, Sabah, Malaysia
Leaders of the Iranun language development program hosted a Language Awareness Seminar for the Iranun language community in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, in June. The seminar included a presentation on the current situation with respect to language development efforts and a discussion of issues relating to the use of Iranun in formal education in the community. During the seminar, the more than 100 participants were divided into three groups to discuss aspects of the Iranun language development program. Later each group reported their conclusions to other participants in a plenary session. Another feature of the seminar was a presentation on the history of the Iranun language development project, it accomplishments, and challenges yet to be faced. For the closing program, Iranun writers and teachers and others in the community provided a program of cultural presentations and the story readings.

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Longitudinal Study Project: SIL International—Asia
SIL International—Asia, is preparing to initiate a Longitudinal Study Project involving bilingual education programs in several ethnic minority communities in Asia. This project will document, analyze and evaluate the long-term effects of the bilingual approach on ethnic minority learners’ ability to succeed in the formal education system and on the participating ethnic minority communities’ ability to maintain their heritage languages and cultures. The project will begin small, with two programs situated within formal education systems—one in China (Dong language community, Guizhou Province) and one in the Philippines (Lubuagan, Kalinga language community, northern Philippines). Once the initial pilot study is established, the project will be expanded to include other language communities in Asia and around the world. The results of the study will be available to governments, academics and others involved and/or interested in language development and education in the minority languages of Asia and elsewhere. For more information about the Longitudinal Study Project, contact Susan_Malone@SIL.Org.

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Seminar on Language Development in India: SIL International and UNESCO
A round table discussion on choice of the medium of instruction in tribal education will be held in September, 2004, at UNESCO House in Delhi. Tribal groups in India are lagging behind the rest of the population in reaching the EFA goals. The discrepancy between the home and school language is one issue contributing to that. The choice of the medium of instruction is getting an increasing amount of attention around the world and India has a lot to offer in this discussion. The purpose of this session, therefore, will be to raise awareness on issues relating to languages in the classroom and to plan concrete steps to tackle the problems relating to implementing multilingual education programs.

The session will consist of a presentation of the UNESCO position paper on this topic (see Education in a Multilingual World, www.unesco.org/education). The paper will then be discussed with a focus on the possible implications for India. Comprehensive reports will be given on the present status of tribal education in India and on several of the projects that have been initiated around the world in which tribal languages are used in the educational system. Participants will also discuss a proposal for holding a nation-wide consultation within the next year. For more information, contact ADIndia@sil.org.

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Multilingual Education Program: Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute, India
The Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, is overseeing the development of a multilingual education programme in eight tribal languages in Andhra Pradesh. The Education Department will provide funds for the project; linguists from three universities in Hyderabad will assist with orthography development; and educators and literacy practitioners from two international organizations will assist with developing teaching and learning materials and with training.

Currently, first grade materials in the eight languages, with illustrations by local artists, have been developed. Instructional plans for grades 2 and 3 will be developed in the coming year and will include a plan for transition into Telegu, the state language. Training is taking place in preparation for piloting the newly produced materials in ten schools in each language group.

Parents and local leaders in the communities in which the materials are to be introduced have responded very positively to plans for implementing the multilingual education programme. The programme will be monitored and evaluated as it proceeds.

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Action Research Project among the Pwo Karen: Office of Non-Formal Education Commission, Thailand
The Office of Non-formal Education Commission (ONFEC) within Thailand’s Ministry of Education, is responsible for the promotion and development of adult education in Thailand. One of its tasks is to organize non-formal education programs for disadvantaged people, including members of minority groups (Hill Tribes) throughout the country. Recently, the ONFEC, with help from SIL International linguists and educators, began piloting an action research project to develop bilingual literacy materials that will promote literacy for the Pwo Karen, an ethnic minority group living in Omkoi district, Chiangmai Province. Similar action research projects, initiated by UNESCO APPEAL, in cooperation with national governments, are being implemented in Bangladesh, China, India and the Philippines.

The purpose of the action research project in Thailand is to study conditions and learning needs of the Pwo Karen people, develop a curriculum framework and content for materials development, work together with Pwo Karen speakers to develop bilingual materials, pre-test the materials, and produce and distribute them to the learners. It is anticipated that this will be an effective educational model for the ethnic minorities in other areas of the country. For more information about the ONFEC Pwo Karen project, contact:
Wisanee Siltragool
The Office of Non-formal Education Commission
Ministry of Education
Bangkok 10300 Thailand

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UNESCO position paper on language education
UNESCO’s position paper on language education can be viewed on the following website: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001297/129728e.pdf.

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Seminar on Community-Based Inclusive Education for Language Groups of Nepal
A half day seminar and one day workshop on community-based inclusive education for language groups in Nepal took place at the SAP-Nepal Falcha Centre BabarMahal, Kathmandu, on 16-17 May, 2004. The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Education and Sports and SIL International. The program included presentations on several education and development programs that have been established in the country and description of a methodology for beginning Mother Tongue Education for children that was developed in Papua New Guinea and is now being used in many countries throughout the world.

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Copyright © 2004 SIL International, Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development - Mahidol University, and UNESCO Bangkok