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Millennium Development Goals > Achieve universal primary education > Class instruction in mother tongue improves test scores

Meeting Millennium Development Goals
through local languages

Goal 2. Achieve universal primary education
SIL views local language development as essential to achieve this goal.

Primary education programs that begin in the mother tongue help students gain literacy and numeracy skills more quickly. When taught in their local language, students readily transfer literacy skills to official languages of education, acquiring essential tools for life-long learning. The results are the growth of self esteem and a community that is better equipped to become literate in languages of wider communication.

Class instruction in mother tongue improves test scores

The students' higher learning competency scores in Spanish, when taught in Tepehuan, were compiled for a research project at the Pedagogical University of Durango, Mexico. The students' higher learning competency scores in Spanish, when taught in Tepehuan, were compiled for a research project at the Pedagogical University of Durango, Mexico.

Victor, a bilingual primary school teacher in the village of Santa Maria Ocotán, Mexico, wanted to study the effect of mother-tongue education in his first grade class. He taught his students all of their subjects in Tepehuan, although most of the teaching materials were in Spanish. Another first grade teacher used only Spanish. At the end of the year, the test scores on the standardized government tests for the students taught in their mother tongue surpassed those for the students taught only in Spanish, even though the tests were in Spanish.