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UNESCO, UNICEF, SEAMEO, Mahidol University and SIL co-sponsor multilingual education workshop in Bangkok

(August 2007) Eighty-five education professionals from 25 nations are participating in the Workshop for Planning Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education Programs—Focus on Teaching and Learning Materials 20-31 August in Bangkok, Thailand. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Childrens Education Fund (UNICEF), Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), Mahidol University and SIL International are sponsors of the two-week event.

"It is helpful to learn how multilingual education (MLE) is working in other countries. This encourages us to feel that we can do it, too, in our country," declared one of the 77 participants representing 14 Asian countries.

The workshop focuses on issues and principles relating to implementing strong and sustainable mother-tongue-based MLE programs, with a special emphasis on developing teaching and learning materials. Workshop facilitators are Drs. Susan and Dennis Malone, SIL International MLE consultants, and Ms. Wanna Tienmee, Director of the Foundation of Applied Linguistics. Among the participants are mother-tongue speakers of 35 languages.

Workshop objectives for the participants are to:

Over the past several years, leaders and educators have become more aware of the difficulties that many students from ethnic minority communities face when they enter mainstream schools. Now, an increasing number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental agencies throughout Asia have begun considering ways to improve educational access and success for ethnic minority students. MLE programs continue to gain momentum and partner organizations have expressed appreciation for SIL’s leadership in this initiative.

SIL is involved in language development, mother-tongue-based literacy and MLE in numerous countries in Asia as well as worldwide. As an international NGO, SIL has been in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations since 1997 and with UNESCO since 1993. Such affiliations provide a platform for SIL to contribute to the global dialog on language development and MLE.

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