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Millennium Development Goals > Achieve universal primary education > Successful mobile schooling program for nomads

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.

Successful mobile schooling program for nomads

Yousif and his family attend a mother-tongue mobile education program designed to be compatible with the seasonal migration of their flocks. Yousif and his family attend a mother-tongue mobile education program designed to be compatible with the seasonal migration of their flocks.

Like his nomadic father and grandfather before him, Yousif was a shepherd in the mountainous terrain of West Asia. And like his ancestors, the continual travels limited his access to primary education. Nomadic peoples are often illiterate because those wanting education for their children must either sell their flocks and settle in poor urban areas or send their boys away from home to attend school.

But Yousif and others in his family began attending an innovative mobile schooling program. Adults and children started reading and writing in their mother tongue and transferred their literacy skills to the national language and then to basic English. Evening classes were held only during the summer and winter grazing seasons due to seasonal migration. One season, when Yousif’s family was unable to migrate, he enrolled in a government school; the teachers were amazed that a nomadic child could read with such fluency. Even though Yousif had completed only the two-year mobile program, he was promoted to grade four.