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Experts from China’s language communities to partner with SIL

(July 2011) About 70 provincial officials from various government bodies visited the Zero Barrier Jianchuan Bai project from 3-6 May 2011. Many of these officials are minority language experts who are themselves members of minority language communities. Because of what they learned during their visit, many expressed an intention to partner with SIL East Asia. The meeting was featured on local TV and in the Ethnic Times newspaper.

The Bai Literacy Project began as a six-year cooperative project between the Yunnan Province Language Affairs Commission and SIL. As a result of the initial project’s success, in June 2010 the Minority Education Committee of the Yunnan Provincial Education Association, the Minority Language Guidance Committee of the Yunnan Provincial Ethnic Affairs Commission and SIL East Asia signed a memorandum of understanding to continue and expand this effort in a ten-year Zero Barrier Bilingual Education Project. This project will serve as a model for future bilingual education work in other provinces of China.

The Jianchuan County Education and Culture Bureaus are actively involved in the project, a commitment which extends to providing and staffing the project office. SIL supplied the primary funding for this project; additional contributions were made by local authorities.

Feedback from delegates

The Bai-Han (Bai-Chinese) Multilingual Education (MLE) project has offered a new education model to rural ethnic minority communities… Besides giving students a good foundation in education, this model can also preserve an ethnic community’s culture and heritage.
- Zhang Yi (Yunnan Provincial Education Bureau, Department of Nationality Education)

Through this trip, I came to understand the SIL model of a mother-tongue-first MLE project. This model is the most practical way to improve minority students’ access to education. It should be advocated among other minority groups.
- Lu Yunchun (Yunnan Provincial Minority Languages Commission)

I think the teaching method for Shilong Preschool is very good. Learning Bai first, then Chinese can help the students to improve in both languages. It can also help to pass on cultural traditions to the next generation. This teaching method combines language learning and physical activity, which makes it easier for students to learn and enhances students’ interest.
- Hu Zhongwen (Yunnan Pumi Association)

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