Wednesday, 8 August 2018
Susan Nyaga from Kenya, SIL International Senior Literacy & Education Consultant lead a presentation on the importance of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTBMLE). She defined mother tongue as the language through which a child first learns to express himself as well as the language through which a person perceives the world around him. Considering that the child learns best when taught in his mother tongue, more needs to be done to facilitate education through means of the home language whilst in the school environment. Susan stated that MTBMLE is neither a new nor isolated concept, with the topic preoccupying educational conferences for over five years globally. She said that the minority language child is often made to feel ashamed of his mother tongue, the consequences of which include these children denouncing their culture, some to the point of even disowning their family, all in a bid to align themselves with the majority language speakers. The harsh reality is that when society rejects a child’s mother tongue, they are in truth, rejecting the child. Susan then read the poem ‘My Language, My Home.’ She then shared some statistics regarding language around the world. There are approximately 6700 languages around the world. Only 62% of the population has access to education in their mother tongue. Out of 524 countries, African languages are only recognised in only 10. Arabic is recognised in 9 of those countries. 221million school aged children are first language speakers of languages not recognised in the school system. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 3% of the population are educated in their mother tongue. Children who begin learning in their first language are more likely to learn a second language more thoroughly, learn to read quicker and are more likely to participate in the classroom activities.
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Wednesday, 8 August 2018
Our last speaker for the day Mignon Hardie, Executive Director of FUNDZA gave a presentation of Language as the Foundation of Community. Mignon started off with the concept that stories have the power to bring about change and the ability to transform lives. She explained that FUNDZA is aimed at adolescents and young adults, to combat the high rate of illiteracy in South Africa. One of the difficulties is that 58% of households do not have books for reading pleasure. The average English marks for the grade 9 student’s is only 33.2% Matriculant students are unable to write in paragraphs, do not understand questions and do not have an understanding of vocabulary. FUNDZA aims to bring about change through supporting reading groups, supplying books with 500 groups supported. She brought up the possibilities of reaching people through cellphone literature, promoting language learning and encouraging writing for expression. Participants then did an exercise where they were asked to do free writing for 5 minutes on ‘My Reading Journey’ which they then shared among each other. Mignon supplied the participants with examples of FUNDZA publications to look through and then asked for feedback on what the participants thought. Examples of what stories worked were those with relatable characters, exciting plots, clear, easy language and authentic plots that were not in a form of preaching. After that, another free writing exercise on ‘Language and Me’ took place. At the end of the exercise, some of the participants of non English speaking language sang a song in their own language, well known by all participants who took part. Mignon concluded her presentation by asking the participant for their views on reaching readers through cell phones versus books or writing on paper.
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Blue Heart

He was only halfway through the process. There were hundreds of little plastic beads that needed to be lined up according to a prescribed pattern, with the final step calling for a hot iron to run...

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