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SIL consultant is plenary speaker at SEAMEO Council Conference

(April 2009) SIL International joined officials and observers from donor governments and international organizations participating in the 44th SEAMEO* Council Conference 5–8 April in Phuket, Thailand.
*Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization

One of the plenary speakers was SIL multilingual education (MLE) consultant Kimmo Kosonen, Ph.D, who presented the major accomplishments of a SEAMEO–World Bank project. The conference included the launching of a SEAMEO publication co-edited by Kosonen and Catherine Young, Ph.D. candidate, also an SIL MLE consultant.

In his plenary session, Kimmo Kosonen presented accomplishments of the project, "Mother Tongue as Bridge Language of Instruction in Southeast Asian Countries: Policy, Strategies and Advocacy." It provides opportunities to explore how Southeast Asian countries, through appropriate language policies, can achieve Education for All by widening access, reducing student repetition and dropout rates and improving learning outcomes. The SEAMEO–World Bank project started in June 2007. Advocacy of project results and related follow-up activities will continue through June 2009.

The SEAMEO Council Conference is the annual meeting of the education ministers of the 11 SEAMEO Member countries, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. Participants from SEAMEO countries included the SEAMEO Secretariat, ministers of education and officials of the SEAMEO Member countries, representatives of SEAMEO Associate Member countries, Affiliate Member and SEAMEO Centre Directors.

New publication launched

The Honorable Dato' Dr. Ahamad bin Sipon, SEAMEO Secretariat Director, launched the new SEAMEO publication, Mother tongue as bridge language of instruction: Policies and experiences in Southeast Asia, which is a compendium of language policies, case studies and general recommendations for mother-tongue-based education in SEAMEO Member countries.

"We are pleased to present the publication produced by the SEAMEO Secretariat with support from the World Bank," said Dato' Dr. Ahamad. "It provides insights that may further strengthen each country's policies concerning language of instruction as a way to achieve education for all."

This publication was co-edited by SIL MLE consultants Kimmo Kosonen and Catherine Young. It asserts that the learners' mother tongue is a bridge to further education, and that multilingualism is a tool for building bridges between people.

The new book includes chapters on language-in-education policies in Southeast Asian countries, good practices in mother-tongue-first multilingual education, case studies from various countries, and general recommendations for moving forward in Southeast Asia in terms of using non-dominant languages as the bridge language of instruction.

The publication is a result of a consultative workshop organized by the SEAMEO Secretariat and the World Bank in February 2008. During that workshop, participants from SEAMEO Member countries studied the issues and strategies related to basic education for ethnolinguistic minority communities in Southeast Asia. The book will be available for free download at the SEAMEO website.

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