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Primary schooling

MTB-MLE: A New Direction for Timor-Leste

Abstract: The selection of the medium of instruction is one of the most challenging and contentious decisions facing education policymakers, since it has such far-reaching effects and implications. Controversy over the role and status of languages in the East Timorese school curriculum has dominated debates about educational quality since independence. This chapter opens with an overview of the current challenges facing education planners in Timor-Leste. 

Seen but Not Heard: Addressing Inequalities Surrounding Ethnolinguistic Identity

Abstract: Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is advancing unequally. Some goals will almost certainly be missed and progress towards others is slow (United Nations, 2012). This paper highlights the particular inequalities facing minority ethnolinguistic communities and the impact these inequalities have on progress towards all the MDGs.

Presentations on MTB-MLE and Transition from Dr. Agatha van Ginkel

Dr. Agatha van Ginkel, an Education and Language Consultant with SIL Africa Area gave two presentations related to MTB-MLE issues at the recent 
All Children Reading, Africa 2012 workshops earlier this year. These workshops, hosted by the Global Partnership for Education and attended by various education experts and leaders, were designed with the purpose of finding innovative ways to improve early grade reading and boost children's literacy in developing countries. 

Dr. van Ginkel's presentations discuss both the importance and value of mother tongue instruction as well as provide guidance for teachers on deciding when and how students should be transitioned from their mother tongue to L2. 

Action Research on Mother Tongue-Based Bilingual Education in Vietnam

Although Vietnam's basic education system has seen great success in recent years, ethnic minority groups continue to show poor educational achievement. With high dropout and low enrollment rates, accelerating the academic performance of ethnic minorities has been an ongoing challenge. As speakers of local languages, ethnic minority children have struggled to learn in a language that is not their own. 
In 2008, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) partnered with UNICEF to create Mother Tongue-Based Bilingual Education programs. Implemented through Action Research in schools in the Lao Cai, Gia Lai and Tra Vinh provinces, the MOET has saught to improve the quality of education for speakers of the Mong, Jrai and Khmer languages and their respective ethnic minorities.

Progress Report on the MTB-MLE Pilot Program for Timor-Leste

Launched in February, 2011 the "MTB-MLE Policy for Timor-Leste" mandated that children in pre-primary and primary grades should be educated in their mother tongue.

As part of the implementation strategy for this policy, the National Education Commission's "Language in Education Working Group" also recommended that a pilot program be carried out in which students were instructed in their mother tongues.

This resource describes the progress that the pilot program, implemented in the Manatuto, Oecusse and Lautem districts, has made during the months of January - May, 2012. 

Education Apps for All Challenge: First Round of Apps Submission

Oct 15 2012
Nov 30 2012
America/New York

iLearn4Free recently launched the 'Education apps for All' challenge on September 8th 2012. iLearn4Free is looking for instructional apps that are geared toward learners in elementary grades. 


For more information and submission rules please visit:

Bilingual Education in Africa: An Exploration of Encouraging Connections Between Language and Girl's Schooling

Mother tongue or bilingual programmes come in various forms. The general idea is to provide at least beginning instruction and initial literacy in a language spoken by the student, i.e. the mother tongue – known as the first language or L1 – or a reasonably close second language. Few programmes deny the necessity for children to learn the official language in addition; however, this language – often known as an L2 – should ideally be taught as the second or foreign language that it is, beginning with oral skills and later developing L2 literacy on the basis of transference of skills learned first in the mother tongue.

A Professional Development Program for the Mother Tongue-Based Teacher: Addressing Teacher Knowledge and Attitudes about MTBMLE

Dr. Rebecca Paulson Stone, who recently completed her PhD at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst presented her dissertation research to the MTB-MLE Network on July 23, 2012 at the Save the Children offices in Washington, DC. The purpose of her research was to help program designers develop professional development initiatives that successfully address some of the major identified challenges teachers face when implementing MTB-MLE. The research project was  implemented in Southern Mindanao, Philippines over a 3-month period in the Summer 2010. 

Kom Experimental Mother Tongue Education Pilot Project

2012 marks the 5th year of a longitudinal pilot project in the Kom language community located in the Boyo Division of the North West Region, Cameroon, involving the implementation of a mother tongue-based curriculum in 12 experimental schools.The project is being carried out by SIL International and led by Dr. Stephen Walter, who currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Language Development for the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL).

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