Loud and Clear: Teach Children in a Language They Use and Understand
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Loud and Clear: Teach Children in a Language They Use and Understand
The World Bank’s focus on foundational skills requires that issues of language and Language of Instruction be brought to the forefront of education policy discussions. Poor Language of Instruction policies harm learning, access, equity, cost-effectiveness, and inclusion. Yet, inappropriate Language of Instruction policies affect too many students in low- and middle-income countries. Given the large numbers of students being taught in languages that they do not understand globally, massive learning improvements are feasible by teaching in a small number of additional languages.
This discussion will present the World Bank’s first Policy Approach Paper on Language of Instruction, “Loud and Clear: Effective Language of Instruction Policies for Learning”, to outline its position and recommendations. The paper also offers an indication of the work that will be undertaken to support countries in introducing reforms that will result in more resilient, equitable, and effective systems by promoting teaching in the languages that students and teachers speak and understand best.
- Introduction & Presentation: Alberto Rodriguez, Director, Strategy and Operations for Human Development, World Bank; Dena Ringold, Regional Director for Human Development in the Africa West and Central Region, World Bank; Jaime Saavedra, Global Director, Education, World Bank.
- Speakers: Dhir Jhingran, Founder and Director, The Language and Learning Foundation; Dr. Hanada Taha-Endowed, Chair Professor of Arabic Language at Zayed University; Dina Ocampo, Professor, University of Philippines; Adama Ouane, Former Director of UNESCO’s Lifelong Learning; Stanislas Ouaro, Minister of Education, Burkina Faso; Geremew Huluka, State Minister of Education, Ethiopia; Cinthya Game Vargas, Vice Minister of Education, Ecuador.
- Moderator: Femi Oke, international journalist.
Read the transcript
- 00:05 [Femi Oke]: Hello everybody. My name is Femi Oke.
- 00:08 I am going to be your moderator for the next 90 minutes. Children. when they're taught at school
- 00:14 in the language that they speak at home, do better in their school studies. It's just the fact.
- 00:21 I have been a journalist for many, many, many years, decades in fact. And about 13 years ago, I
- 00:27 was reporting and living in South Africa and a new keyboard had been designed and the keyboard was
- 00:33 not a keyboard full of English characters. It had the characters of the languages that the children
- 00:39 were speaking at home. Instantly, homework got better. It came in on time. The students study
- 00:46 better because they could type in characters that they understood in a language that matched
- 00:50 the languages they spoke at home. So the reason we're all here is because as the World Bank has
- 00:56 put out its first policy proposal for language that is important, that children speak at home.
- 01:08 [Femi Oke]: So we are going to be talking about that.
- 01:11 And in this conversation we will have, are bank officials, academics,
- 01:17 we have ministers and we will also have you, you see that little chat box there, your comments,
- 01:23 your questions, you can put them in the chat box. We have a World Bank team who will be looking at
- 01:28 those comments, questions, answering them, and also bringing those conversations, your
- 01:33 comments. I will bring them into the conversation here because we are a multi-lingual conversation.
- 01:39 We will have interpretation in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and also
- 01:46 in English. So now that we're all set and we're ready to go. Welcome everybody to Loud and Clear,
- 01:54 teach children in a language they use and understand.
- 01:58 [Female voice]:
- 02:02 Think back to your school days, you may remember your classroom supplies mates, a favorite teacher,
- 02:10 even a principal. The teacher would explain the lessons and some students
- 02:14 would understand while others had questions, but you could tell learning was happening.
- 02:20 Now imagine the same classroom, but when the teacher speaks, she uses a language
- 02:26 that students don't understand. As you can tell, it is impossible for children to learn this way.
- 02:33 Unfortunately, this problem is not uncommon. Nearly 37% of children are taught in a language
- 02:39 they don't understand in low and middle income countries. This is a major reason for the high
- 02:45 rates of learning poverty seen around the world. These children miss their chance to
- 02:50 learn foundational skills like reading that are critical for future success. Even worse.
- 02:56 These children tend to be the most vulnerable. This is because national policies often require
- 03:02 teachers to speak in a language. Students don't understand, but better policies are possible.
- 03:07 [Female voice]: There is a better way.
- 03:09 When children are taught in a language, they understand through basic spoke,
- 03:13 they have the opportunity to learn not only the language they speak at home, but also other
- 03:18 school subjects like math and science, as well as other languages. To end learning poverty issues of
- 03:25 language of instruction must be addressed. Let's give every child the chance to learn
- 03:31 let's ensure every child is taught in a language. They understand.
- 03:43 [Femi
- 03:44 Oke]: We are talking about the impact of using a
- 03:47 language of instruction and what that language of instruction should be to help children do better.
- 03:53 Hello, Alberto. Hello, Dina. Nice to see you. Two very important people from the World Bank. They're
- 03:58 going to tell you how important they are. Alberto introduce yourself to the world bank librarians.
- 04:02 [Alberto Rodriguez]: Well, it's great to be
- 04:06 here. Good morning. Good afternoon. My name is Alberto Rodriguez. I am the director of operations
- 04:11 and strategy for human development, and it's a great pleasure to join this conversation Femi.
- 04:16 [Femi Oke]: So good to have you. Hello, Dina.
- 04:18 Welcome to our conversation. Nice to see you, introduce yourself to our live audience today.
- 04:24 [Dena Ringold]:
- 04:25 Sure. Good morning Femi, and good afternoon to colleagues out there. And hi Alberto,
- 04:30 my name is Dina Ringgold and I'm regional director for human development in Western central Africa.
- 04:36 [Femi Oke]:
- 04:37 Let's start with you Alberto, just in case anybody's not aware of what learning
- 04:42 poverty actually means, would you just sum that up very quickly for us?
- 04:45 [Alberto Rodriguez]: Well, first of all, learning poverty
- 04:49 is a measurement that we're using in the bank to precisely identify the impact of low social
- 04:56 capacity, low economic capacity, and in general, social poverty on learning. And the fact that
- 05:02 actually learning is very inequitable. Our poorest and most vulnerable are actually the kids who are
- 05:10 learning the least. Now this is important because we are in a very particular context. I mean,
- 05:16 as you know well, we are in a moment where we have a crisis within a crisis, if you will,
- 05:24 we're going through this pandemic, and this pandemic has generated a terrible
- 05:28 crisis for families, students, educators. Before the COVID-19,
- 05:36 we already knew that we had a learning crisis. We already knew that not every
- 05:41 child was learning and that in fact, our poorest kids were learning the least those
- 05:45 that came from vulnerable families and countries have done a lot to bring children to school.
- 05:51 [Alberto Rodriguez]: But now they're starting to realize, and
- 05:53 they were starting to realize before the pandemic, that learning was very, very limited, even though
- 05:57 kids may have been in school. COVID has threatened things even further. The reality is that the twin
- 06:05 shock of school closures and the economy crisis, are really threatening to exacerbate this burning
- 06:12 crisis that we're talking about and that the learning poverty indicators are very clear about.
- 06:19 Now within this crisis, I think that this event is actually very, very timely because one can
- 06:25 not ignore the issue of language of instruction, as one of the important elements of this crisis,
- 06:33 language is essential to learning, instruction unfolds through language,
- 06:38 we all know that we all went to school and, and it is really ultimately very unfortunate that
- 06:45 millions of children, up to 37% of children in low and middle income countries are taught
- 06:52 in a language that they don't use at home and that they don't understand.
- 06:55 [Alberto Rodriguez]: So why are we surprised
- 06:57 that there is a learning crisis? Isn't it possible that in fact,
- 07:02 this is part a very important part of the issue of why children don't learn. It is true that teachers
- 07:08 need to be trained curriculums improved, and all of the educational inputs can help
- 07:14 improve learning. But language of instruction can be very much at the center of the learning crisis
- 07:21 and that's why this is important. And I would argue that that good language policies are still
- 07:29 an exception and not the rule. And this is when focusing on language is important, and this is
- 07:35 why this event is important. And we want to bring this issue to the forefront of our education work.
- 07:39 [Femi Oke]: Dina. We are going to be looking in more detail
- 07:44 at the World Bank policy paper on language of instruction and what it means for different
- 07:50 regions, what it means for governments and policy makers. But there's something that I noticed
- 07:55 cause I read the policy paper and there's a correlation between learning poverty and children,
- 08:05 language of instruction where they're being taught in a language that is not
- 08:08 the language that they grew up speaking at home. So there's a direct correlation, particularly
- 08:13 on the African continent, bearing in mind your job and your role right now at the World Bank.
- 08:20 Can you explain what those difficulties are between learning poverty? So children's'
- 08:24 ability to do basic mathematics and being able to read and being taught in a language that they
- 08:30 don't actually speak or understand. Why is that such a big challenge on the African continent?
- 08:36 [Dena Ringold]: Thanks, Femi. And I think that those are
- 08:39 really critical questions from the perspective of our work in Sub-Saharan Africa as whole in
- 08:46 Western central Africa, in particular education and addressing the types of issues around the
- 08:53 learning crisis that Alberto just mentioned are key. And in our strategic priorities,
- 08:58 human capital and education for country's future growth, productivity, development, for
- 09:07 individuals, for families is absolutely central. And I think what we see in this report is that we
- 09:13 cannot make progress on learning, on improving education outcomes without considering language
- 09:20 of instruction. So if I take the region where I work the learning situation is dire four out of
- 09:29 five. Children are in learning poverty. I think we have the highest level of out of school children
- 09:35 in the world. And it's also one of the most rich and diverse regions as far as language goes.
- 09:43 [Dena Ringold]: So we, I think there are five
- 09:46 official languages in the region, but the truth is there 940 languages that's Western central Africa.
- 09:54 I think if you take the continent as a whole it's 1500 languages and many of these languages cross
- 10:01 borders. So I think you can already start to imagine some of the challenges that emerge for,
- 10:08 for policymakers, but these are challenges we have to tackle because as the report says, children
- 10:14 will learn more if they're taught in their first language. So I think this means really thinking
- 10:20 about how to do this, how to train teachers, how to select which of these multiple languages
- 10:29 schools can usefully provide and how to think about adjusting, learning materials and textbooks.
- 10:37 So I think this report puts those issues on the table in a really useful way.
- 10:42 [Femi Oke]: Dina I'm going
- 10:43 to share this question with you from World Bank live. And the question is Nigeria has over 500
- 10:50 languages. So deal point is so many languages or in the continent of Africa, how should
- 10:56 schools operate when there's so many different languages are spoken? That is sort of like a 101
- 11:01 challenge. What have you seen working effectively?
- 11:05 [Dena Ringold]: So I think these are great questions.
- 11:09 And I think one of the things that the report does really well is look at how to think about
- 11:20 both starting, right? So the importance of the early years, and I think we've seen examples
- 11:27 from across the world where starting kids in pre-primary and early childhood in their
- 11:34 mother tongue is really effective and you can do this in community schools.
- 11:39 New Zealand did this by having grandmothers teach indigenous kids the Maori indigenous language,
- 11:46 but there's also economies of scale, right? So even if you have 500 languages,
- 11:51 you can look at this and see, how, which languages are spoken by a greater number of people in order
- 11:57 to adjust policies and textbooks to capture the most kids, but it is absolutely a challenge.
- 12:03 [Femi Oke]: Alberto the policy
- 12:07 paper and language of instruction also says, we are here as a resource. What can the World Bank
- 12:13 do to help you governments, policy makers? Can you emphasize that when people are watching this,
- 12:20 when people then looking at the executive summary of the policy paper, when they're thinking we can
- 12:28 do this. What is the World Bank offering? What is the support that we're able to give?
- 12:32 [Alberto Rodriguez]: Well, as I said earlier,
- 12:34 this is a very important issue for us. There's a number of things that we are doing and in fact,
- 12:42 this paper itself is one of them where we're bringing forward research,
- 12:45 country level research that tells us what works and what doesn't work. You know, one thing that
- 12:52 we found that I think is extremely interesting is that the best way for a student to learn a second
- 12:59 language is to have their mother language as a strong basis and a strong foundation.
- 13:04 In other words, it is very understandable for example, that a parent will want their child
- 13:08 to learn English because they see high value in the child learning English. However, we
- 13:14 now bring forward research that shows that it is not a choice between that and the mother tongue,
- 13:19 you can do both. And in fact, both build on each other for stronger outcomes for that child.
- 13:24 [Alberto Rodriguez]: So I think there's a technical
- 13:26 element that the bank brings forward of knowledge, of research, of information. But this issue is not
- 13:32 only technical, this issue is also requires a commitment of society. And the reason is because
- 13:39 this is an issue that can be quite personal and even political language is a tool that is used
- 13:44 to pursue different societal and personal goals. And therefore there needs to be a conversation,
- 13:50 an agreement, a commitment from the population and from our government around this issue.
- 13:56 So I've pointed out the two issues, commitment, discussion about it and second technical aspects,
- 14:03 knowledge in both the bank can be a strong player. We're able to convene different actors
- 14:08 of societies, we're present in the countries and can help that discussion and can bring to
- 14:14 that discussion the knowledge, the research, and the evidence that is required to have an informed
- 14:20 discussion around this issue, making a sound plan around language and instruction is a key portion
- 14:28 of implementing it and making it a success for the learning of all students. We can help on that.
- 14:36 [Femi Oke]: I like that you address the elephant in the room,
- 14:40 and that is the language of instruction. Isn't just about a school policy. Sometimes
- 14:48 it is political about the language that taught in a country. So this, this question for World
- 14:55 Bank live is a good one. This observation teachers want to teach in a language that
- 15:00 kids understand. Some governments don't and many parents and teachers see why it is better for the
- 15:06 students to use their home, their local language in school, but the government requires instruction
- 15:10 in the official language of the country. So then what do you do? It's a hot topic. Know it's a
- 15:18 difficult topic to address Alberto, how will you guide us in the rest of our conversation?
- 15:23 [Alberto Rodriguez]: I think it is a difficult topic, but I think we
- 15:26 have to go back to the basics if you will. I think everyone, local governments, national governments,
- 15:32 we all want students to succeed. Our objective or goal is for students to succeed in school,
- 15:39 to be happy , to be active citizens of the world, contributors, both on the economy,
- 15:46 but also on the societal aspects. And therefore we focus on that ultimate goal
- 15:51 and we say, that's what we all want. Then we go back to the evidence and we say, how can that be
- 15:57 done? And that's where we find that children are more likely to be successful in school.
- 16:02 [Alberto Rodriguez]: If they learn in their own language,
- 16:04 even though they can learn other languages as well. And that's what
- 16:07 I indicated that it's not an either or it's an and option. You can learn both. And in fact,
- 16:13 when you have strong support and basis in your mother tongue, it is easier and it is
- 16:20 more effective to learn a second language. So this is really a consensus building process
- 16:26 where you focus on the ultimate result, the ultimate goal, and you work through
- 16:31 the evidence to get there. I think it is possible and I think we can help in that process
- 16:36 [Femi Oke]: Alberto and Dina,
- 16:38 thank you so much for kicking off our conversation today. I've been talking about this World Bank
- 16:43 policy paper on language of instruction. The very first one ever the PDF is 104 pages long. One of
- 16:52 the people who's responsible for that PDF, not by himself because it's the work of an entire team
- 16:59 is Jaime , come in here and introduce yourself, tell everybody who you are and what you do.
- 17:04 [Jaime Saavedra]: Thank you very much
- 17:06 Femi. This is Jaime Saavedra, I'm the global director for education in the world bank.
- 17:10 [Femi Oke]: So nice to have you. It's a beautiful
- 17:15 policy paper. It's accessible,
- 17:18 104 pages long, but you are going to condense that into the next few minutes.
- 17:23 [Jaime Saavedra]: Thank you very much. Thank you very
- 17:25 much Femi. Let me do the more complicated thing here, which is sharing my screen. I will do well.
- 17:33 And let me see if I'm succeeding or not. Okay. Great. Excellent. So to a certain extent,
- 17:44 many people would say, why would we need a policy paper and a seminar something that's called,
- 17:51 let's teach children in a language that they use and understand,
- 17:54 right? It might sound to a large extent that will sound obvious, right?
- 17:59 Isn't that something that we should be doing right? Isn't it obvious that
- 18:05 countries should be doing that? And unfortunately, and as I was already mentioning, I mean, there
- 18:12 are technical issues, there are political issues why that is not happening , we do have a problem
- 18:23 about a third of gifts, right? Are being taught in a language that they don't understand.
- 18:29 [Jaime Saavedra]:
- 18:30 And many kids in the world are failing in terms of attaining the foundational skills that they
- 18:36 nearly not being, they need in school in order to continue in school as I begged to introduce
- 18:46 just before the pandemic, we launched this number and this concept of learning poverty,
- 18:52 and we said, what's the share of students or children in general? But then what's the share
- 18:56 of children who cannot read and understand a simple text page? If you think this well,
- 19:02 this percentage should be zero, right? All kids should be able to learn and to be able
- 19:07 to read and understand by age. Unfortunately, that number is 53%. That is an extremely high number,
- 19:14 but most of those kids are in school. Some of them are not, but most of them are in school,
- 19:19 are not learning the foundational skills. And actually this number varies a lot across regions.
- 19:25 [Jaime Saavedra]: So it is still a worrisome 21% in East Asia, 13%,
- 19:29 anything in Europe and Central Asia, but it's almost 90% in Sub-Saharan Africa and between
- 19:35 the fifties and the sixties in Latin America and Middle-East and North Africa and in South
- 19:40 Asia. So this is really a failure, right? So we were saying, look, we do have a crisis here,
- 19:48 but this will be represented was just before the pandemic,
- 19:55 right? And now as Dina and Alberto were mentioning the pandemic is threatening,
- 20:01 but to make things much worse, we have a gigantic two in shock, right? Our school closures
- 20:07 and a huge economic crisis, which is decreasing both the quantity and the quality of education.
- 20:12 The dropout rates, we already have evidence that are going up. Learning losses are mounting,
- 20:20 and maybe this 53% will be increasing according to our simulations after these alone lone closures.
- 20:29 [Jaime Saavedra]: And our initial estimations were that this 53%
- 20:34 might be going up to 63%. And unfortunately, even this might be an underestimation given
- 20:41 the extent of the school closures that we see throughout the world. And unfortunately
- 20:46 this is a very unequal impact because not all children have had as the same access
- 20:51 to remote learning throughout this month. This learning crisis is intrinsically
- 20:58 connected to language, right? The students, a student home language, which is called L1, right
- 21:07 in the jargon of your specialists, right? If that language is her initial endowment of knowledge and
- 21:14 is the basic, the basis for a good start of, of learning to read or a good start learning math,
- 21:21 or other subjects that we want them to master in school. And unfortunately there are many
- 21:28 conditions in many countries in which the conditions for learning like are challenging.
- 21:32 [Jaime Saavedra]: And in addition, language diversity, right,
- 21:35 makes the challenge even tougher. And what we find is that 37%, this is a very high number of kids
- 21:43 in low income countries are being taught in the language that they don't understand. And there is
- 21:49 a very high correlation between learning poverty at the regional level and precisely that share of
- 21:55 children who... [voices in the background]... if they could mute their mic, that would be great.
- 22:07 In particular, we see that in Sub-Saharan Africa,
- 22:10 Middle-East and North Africa, very high rates of learning poverty, very high rates
- 22:16 of teaching children, not being teachen in the right language. Interestingly, in Latin America,
- 22:20 we see a very small number of kids that are being taught in the wrong language,
- 22:24 but that number is because there are a few countries, large countries like Argentina or
- 22:30 Columbia in which this issue of language diversity is not a gigantic one, but I mean, overall,
- 22:36 we do see a large correlation between learning poverty and the challenge that we're faced.
- 22:41 [Jaime Saavedra]: If the child
- 22:43 is not taught the language they speak at home, they are more likely to beat from the bottom
- 22:48 40 of the socioeconomic scales. Right? If schools in that area are, do not have the right language,
- 22:55 they might just never enroll. And if they do, they might be absent from class,
- 22:59 they might drop out, they might never achieve the cognitive, academic and language skills.
- 23:02 [Jaime Saavedra]: They might drop out. They might never achieve the cognitive academic language skills that we want them,
- 23:05 but there is a better way. And the better way is about a policy package.
- 23:10 And I emphasize the word package because we say we need to train teachers. We need books. We need
- 23:15 problem covered in the classroom. Yes, we need all things. But the key things that we need to
- 23:20 have a package of interventions, if we want to move the needle of learning. And the first
- 23:25 element of that package is what Alberto was saying is political commit. It's political
- 23:30 and technical commitment. And sometimes that political commitment is about the willingness to
- 23:36 measure learning even if that brings us bad news, to measure learning, set targets and move fast.
- 23:41 [Jaime Saavedra]: Second part of the package,
- 23:43 supporting teachers. Third part of the package, provide quality and age-appropriate books. Make
- 23:48 sure that all kids have books and texts in their hands. Fourth, teaching the right language,
- 23:54 right? And fifth, engage parents and the community because there
- 23:57 has to be a continuity of the learning process between the school and the home.
- 24:02 So we need to implement all this package including digital language of instruction.
- 24:07 [Jaime Saavedra]: And if that happens,
- 24:09 our research is showing that if the child is starting to write in the right language, learning
- 24:16 will be faster and will be more efficient. And actually as it was mentioned already,
- 24:23 the acquisition of the second language, right? What they call L2 would be even easier, right?
- 24:30 Students will develop more confidence and learn with more confidence, other academic subjects
- 24:35 and develop their good cognitive abilities. And what's more important, there will be a
- 24:39 better interaction between teachers and students, right? The school would be a nicer place for kids.
- 24:45 And the school would be a more inclusive, effective, and efficient place for learning.
- 24:50 [Jaime Saavedra]: Let me close with defining very quickly what are
- 24:54 those effective language of instruction policies, and let me summarize this in five principles.
- 25:00 The first one is teach children in the language they understand through the first
- 25:05 six years of primary school. The early grades are the most important one. The second one is teach in
- 25:12 that language, not only reading and writing, but other subjects as Math, Science, History. Third
- 25:19 principle, introduce the additional language with a focus of oral and language skills at the right
- 25:26 moment. Fourth principle, continue then working in both languages, right? In the second language
- 25:32 but also continue emphasizing instruction in the mother tongue. And fifth principle is we need to
- 25:41 plan well. We need to implement policies, evaluate them, monitor their working well and adjust.
- 25:48 [Jaime Saavedra]: This is a learning
- 25:49 process. And it's a very complex process. All this thing is easier said than done. This
- 25:54 is a very complex implementation challenge here. First of all, we need to do a very
- 26:00 careful language mapping. I mean, just understanding who speaks what and where,
- 26:05 it's not trivial at all. And you were mentioned the case of Nigeria which you have 500 languages,
- 26:10 but just understanding clearly what is being spoken in each community is a very complex issue.
- 26:18 [Jaime Saavedra]: Then you need to decide on teaching
- 26:20 and learning materials on which languages. It might be very difficult to do it in 500.
- 26:25 You need to choose what will be the 20 or 30. That was my case when I was ministering Peru.
- 26:30 We had to develop materials in 22 languages, which was a very tough challenge, right? But
- 26:36 you need to do that. And it was very happy of approving new alphabets in some cases,
- 26:40 right? That was fantastic, right? It's really making a change in the life of people.
- 26:44 [Jaime Saavedra]: Third, you need to recruit teachers, allocate
- 26:48 them in the right places. Ideally, teachers that will know both languages, which is not easy,
- 26:53 right? And you really need to support it. And we need to measure learning all the time to see if
- 26:58 things are happening. And obviously, technology in these day and ages can really help. And
- 27:06 public policy is not easy, right? We need to adapt policies to ensure that they also
- 27:11 meet the needs of children with disability and those living in fragile and conflict settings.
- 27:15 [Jaime Saavedra]: Let me finalize saying that yes,
- 27:19 this is difficult. This is tough public policy, but this is essential public policy. And there
- 27:24 has been some successes. In Cameroon, right? Kom was introduced as a language of instructions in
- 27:29 the first three grades and then transitioned to English in the fourth one. In Uganda,
- 27:34 12 local languages introducing the first three grade, then transition to English in grade four.
- 27:39 Peru is use a local languages in the early years, although not yet in the whole country.
- 27:43 And then Spanish becomes the language of instruction, depending at the moment in
- 27:47 which was the child's original Spanish fluency. We know these cases. There is evidence that
- 27:56 learning scores will improve in our and every program.
- 27:58 [Jaime Saavedra]: What's our commitment? It's a very
- 28:02 loud and clear commitment. We need to make sure that we will continue working with countries and
- 28:07 with governments to make sure that all children are taught in the language that they understand
- 28:12 if we want to give them the future they deserve. Thank you very much, ma'am. You're muted, Femi.
- 28:19 [Femi Oke]:
- 28:23 Thank you, honey. I have something I want to share with you, and this comes from World Bank live,
- 28:28 as you were speaking, as you were giving your presentation. This is Julia Roman Menacho,
- 28:35 "Very interesting topic but in Bolivia, the native indigenous children are taught in Spanish
- 28:41 even if they speak Aymara, Quechua, Guarani or other languages. This is
- 28:46 detrimental to the learning of boys and girls. This situation must be changed."
- 28:52 I mean, you did that in Peru. Can any of the neighboring countries also do that?
- 28:57 [Jaime Saavedra]: Look, yes they can, and they should
- 29:00 and it's happening. And we're going to hear about the case of Ecuador in a few minutes in which yes,
- 29:06 they are implemented those policies and it's difficult. I can understand that. It's difficult
- 29:10 sometimes from a political perspective because parents say, "No, I want the kids
- 29:15 to learn in Spanish." But as Eduardo Alberto was saying, right? Yes, this is correct. This
- 29:20 is a valid desire. We need to do that, but we will do it in a more effective way if we start
- 29:26 first in Quechua or in Aymara and then the children transits to Spanish. The challenge
- 29:32 is that we need to find teachers in all places that will master both languages. That will be
- 29:37 ideal. We need to develop the reading materials in both languages and that's difficult public policy,
- 29:44 but it's really doable and I think we're going to hear very good examples of this happening.
- 29:48 [Jaime Saavedra]: It happened in Peru and I would say for us,
- 29:52 the easy part what's complicated was a huge amount of work of many technical people of developing
- 29:58 materials. And in some cases regarding languages in the Amazon create new alphabets, right?
- 30:05 But that's the easy part in quotes, because then the training that's supportive of teachers,
- 30:10 that's the more complicated one, right? And we need to deploy all teachers across the whole
- 30:16 country. That's more complicated and that might take some time, but we need to do it.
- 30:21 [Femi Oke]: All right. We're about to
- 30:22 hear how complicated it is. Jaime will be back at the end of our program with his reflections of our
- 30:27 two round tables. We have two round tables. The first one will be looking at challenges, language
- 30:35 of instruction in place and how various different countries and regents are dealing with that
- 30:40 challenge. And the second round table will be looking at implementation. How to get this done?
- 30:46 [Femi Oke]: All right, round table number one,
- 30:48 our virtual round table. On it, we have Minister Stanislas Ouaro from Burkina
- 30:54 Faso. We have Vice Minister Cinthya Game from Ecuador. And Dr. Hanada Taha is also joining
- 31:04 us from Zayed University and also Adama Ouane, former director of UNESCO Lifelong Learning.
- 31:11 Nice to see all of you. I'm going to get you to do your own introduction so you can ground yourself
- 31:16 in why you're so important in this conversation. Now it is not going to be a Ted talk introduction,
- 31:20 because you're all brilliant people, but just a brief introduction so we understand
- 31:24 your connection with language of instruction and why you care about that so much. Minister
- 31:31 Ouaro from Burkina Faso, go ahead. Introduce yourself to our World Bank live audience.
- 31:35 [French interpreter]:
- 31:40 Okay. Thank you very much for putting together this meeting. Thank you for the initial
- 31:50 presentation and the importance of teaching in the mother tongue. I am the education minister.
- 31:59 And we call it the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages,
- 32:10 which shows the will of the government to promote the national languages and the use
- 32:15 of these languages in education to promote, to value and to protect national languages,
- 32:24 preventing them from disappearing as it happens to other countries. So the first
- 32:30 difficulty that we face in Burkina Faso. It has to do with the number of languages.
- 32:32 [Femi Oke]: So minister, if
- 32:33 I may, I'm going to say hello to your other co-panelist and then we will come back to you.
- 32:42 [French interpreter]: [Speaking French]
- 32:43 [Femi Oke]: But I love
- 32:44 how enthusiastic you are to get to the challenges.
- 32:55 [French interpreter]: [Speaking French]
- 32:56 [Femi Oke]: I will come back to you. [French interpreter]: [Speaking French] [Femi Oke]: So we move on to the vice minister,
- 32:58 Cinthya Game for Ecuador. Vice minister, please introduce yourself and your connection
- 33:03 with why language of instruction is so important in your country.
- 33:09 [Cinthya Game Vargas]: Morning everybody. I'm Cinthya.
- 33:18 In Ecuador, the policy of intercultural bilingual is very important because I have 14 nationalities
- 33:29 and different cultures. And it is a challenger of Ecuador change this policy.
- 33:37 [Femi Oke]:
- 33:39 Thank you very much. We move on to Dr. Hanada Taha.
- 33:43 Nice to have you. Your connection with language of instruction, why it's so important in your work?
- 33:50 [Hanada Taha]: Hi Femi. Hi, everybody. Lovely to be here.
- 33:55 For us with the Arabic language and the Middle East and North Africa region,
- 34:00 because of the issue of diglossia which is a phenomenon happening with the Arabic language
- 34:05 where you'll have a standard form and then many dialects, this could cause a challenge
- 34:11 that we will need to smartly work around. We will get to discuss it eventually. Thank you.
- 34:16 [Femi Oke]: Looking forward to it. And Adama Ouane, thank you
- 34:19 for your patience. Your connection with language of instruction, why you care so much about it?
- 34:31 [Adama Ouane]: I have devoted my whole career to this issue of
- 34:39 language of instruction. I've been working for 40 years in education and also together with UNESCO
- 34:47 for life learning. This issue is basic essential and
- 34:54 I am very happy to see that the World Bank is talking about this issue today.
- 35:01 [Femi Oke]: Minister Ouaro, let's go back to you.
- 35:05 The benefits of teaching children in a language they understand in Burkina Faso, what are they?
- 35:15 [French interpreter]:
- 35:20 There are many advantages to that. The first one is that that shortens the time of instruction.
- 35:30 The primary school is six years in Burkina Faso normally, but when we teach these children in
- 35:38 French which is the official language and one at the same time, we can shorten the time that takes.
- 35:51 Too many mics are on at the same time.
- 35:57 [Femi Oke]: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- 35:59 please mute yourself so that the minister can continue. Please mute this. Or it may well be
- 36:07 one of our interpreters. Minister, please continue. We still hear you.
- 36:15 [French interpreter]:
- 36:18 So this is the first advantage and benefits. We shorten the time
- 36:25 for instructing these children. And there are economic advantages, development advantage for
- 36:31 children and in Burkina Faso, there are many children who are not in school, who are out of
- 36:41 the education system. They don't go to school or they will never have access to education.
- 36:48 And with other countries in the region, like Mali, Niger, we have put together what we call
- 36:58 accelerate education strategy so those children go to school for a year and then allows them to make
- 37:09 up for the gap that they have one year, two years. So the first year of schooling covers nine months.
- 37:19 During the two first months, the instruction is given them in the mother tongue of the child.
- 37:26 And then second month, we start using French. And the third grade, in fourth grade, we continue
- 37:36 teaching other things. So it shows how important is to use the mother tongue at the beginning.
- 37:42 [French interpreter]: I am a teacher. I am also researcher,
- 37:46 a researcher at the university. It is important to learn other subjects like Math and others.
- 37:56 It depends on the basis that this is done. For instance, for French, we do that later
- 38:09 at the beginning. Later, in the process of education, we introduce other languages.
- 38:17 But if you shift from one language to another too often, then it will be harder for the children to
- 38:24 understand, to learn Maths and other subjects. But if you teach them in their mother tongue, this is
- 38:31 good because they learn better, they feel more motivated to go to school. Therefore,
- 38:40 there are many advantages and it's wonderful to see that World Bank is interested by that issue.
- 38:46 [Femi Oke]: Bless you, minister. Appreciate you. I want
- 38:49 to go to Cinthya, in Ecuador. So you explained what a big challenge you have, at least 14
- 38:55 different languages, multiple cultures. How are you ensuring that every child
- 39:01 learns to the best of their ability by cutting out that barrier between
- 39:07 a language that they may well be taught in school and the language that they grew up
- 39:10 learning at home. How are you doing that? That's one of the most popular questions that we're
- 39:15 getting on World Bank live right now. It's how do you do this? How do you do it in Ecuador?
- 39:19 [Cinthya Game Vargas]:
- 39:27 Oh, it's a question very important for here. Within this framework of action,
- 39:37 the Ministry of Education of Ecuador has been promoting a bilingual policy by
- 39:45 on the construction of an inclusive intercultural bilingual education system, that in addition to
- 39:53 focusing on the production of educational resources in the countries, 14 language,
- 40:01 by which it seeks to include the different cultural and ancestral knowledge for our peoples
- 40:09 within the teaching framework. We have worked on curricular contextualization
- 40:15 and in this framework, 14 different national curricula of intercultural bilingual basic
- 40:24 education have been designed. We have a secretary of the intercultural bilingual education system,
- 40:32 aiming and coordinating, managing, monitoring, and evaluating policy
- 40:39 in this area. And we seek to just concentrate this body to meet territorial needs.
- 40:46 We are all focused on research into life cycles of the various cultures intended to produce
- 40:53 educational material that allows for the understanding of the cultural roots of the nation,
- 40:59 with firming belief in importance of children and adolescence learning the language they master,
- 41:06 whether it is their mother tongue or another culturally close language.
- 41:12 [Cinthya Game Vargas]: We believe in language as a tool for
- 41:16 accessing knowledge. And that language is of paramount importance because it's facilitate the
- 41:24 relationship and position, theme of a subject in the social spectrum. In the third case,
- 41:31 as in the other, one of the results of linguistic direction will be the permanent reinvention of
- 41:40 cultural identities. And it is present still at this point where they turns plurinational and
- 41:49 inter-culturally acquired importance in all areas. One of them being in the educational sectors.
- 42:00 In Ecuador, the importance of children receiving their education in their language and cultural
- 42:07 environment has been understood. And this promise have been warranty of a constitutional right.
- 42:18 In 2016, Ecuador promote and let the negotiation of the general assembly
- 42:26 resolution to proclaim 2019 as International Year of Indigenous Language and subsequently
- 42:35 the proclamation of the indigenous language 2022-2032. This concentrates initiative of
- 42:46 great significance and immense symbolic value seeks to take action at the national
- 42:55 and international levels to recovers and revitalize indigenous language.
- 43:01 [Cinthya Game Vargas]: In this process, Ecuador has emphasizes the
- 43:05 importance of working for indigenous language in the educational sphere. Since it understand that
- 43:14 when a language disappears, what disappears are the people themselves, their knowledge,
- 43:22 their ways of life, their relationship with the land and their sense of community.
- 43:30 During the pandemic, as a result of collaborative work with UNICEF and Plan International,
- 43:40 educational guys we produce in the 14 ancestral language and currently
- 43:48 the minister of education is carrying out preliminary action such as the creation
- 43:55 of a registration platform for intercultural bilingual education units.
- 44:01 [Cinthya Game Vargas]: The launch of the I
- 44:03 Want To Be A Teacher contest for intercultural bilingual teachers
- 44:10 and permanence in the system and choose teaching in their language. Additionally, we are working
- 44:20 on researching the lifecycle of the people and nationalities to gather information on their
- 44:29 history for development of educational materials that allow bilingual teacher to have, at their
- 44:37 disposal. In this way, the different knowledge of the different cultures can be solved in a
- 44:44 mutually complementary manners. A strategic action of the minister in 2020 was the articulation with
- 44:54 the academic for the production of a bilingual intercultural education repository to offer the
- 45:03 public a bibliographic collection with material of bilingual intercultural education. Thank you.
- 45:11 [Femi Oke]: Thank you so much, Cinthya.
- 45:13 I want to go to the middle eastern north Africa region where Arabic has spoken widely at home
- 45:20 and widely at school. But it's not that simple. It's a little bit more complicated
- 45:26 than that. If you speak Arabic, you know why. Hanada, it's great to have you here.
- 45:32 You have been doing research into language of instruction long before
- 45:36 the World Bank put out their policy paper. So you are here to give us some tips and suggestions,
- 45:43 and also dig a little bit into the research that you've done. First of all, would you
- 45:46 explain that dilemma between Arabic spoken at home and then Arabic that is spoken at school?
- 45:51 [Hanada Taha]:
- 45:52 Thank you very much, Femi. This is a great question. So Arabic is a
- 45:57 diagnostic language. This means that there is a standard language that we all learn at.
- 45:59 [Hanada Taha]: That there is a standard language that we all
- 46:03 learn at school, but then at home we speak in the dialect of that country. Whether Lebanese,
- 46:10 Egyptian, Emirati, Saudi, whatever it is. Now these dialects, I have to say they are direct
- 46:17 derivatives of the standard form of the language. But with a lot of differences, be it phonological
- 46:30 sometimes semantics and tactic. So these differences make it a little bit difficult,
- 46:38 sometimes a lot difficult, depending on the dialect these kids come, from
- 46:42 when they go to school, having heard that specific dialect at home.
- 46:47 In school they are immediately thrown into the lap of, we call it modern standard Arabic,
- 46:53 which was the standardized form that all school materials is based on. And there is no bridging
- 47:03 stage or phase done for these kids, which really lead to many kids falling behind.
- 47:12 [Hanada Taha]: We can see it in the PIRLS and PISA results on
- 47:16 the reading measure that is done. We can see it in their schooling, on other things, even in TIMMS,
- 47:24 the math and the science tests that they do. So it is not just affecting the Arabic, but
- 47:31 it's affecting all learning that is happening in Arabic language. And it's really something that is
- 47:40 not spoken about much. It is something that is not discussed and just taken until recently, possibly,
- 47:48 taken for a fact that you will have a seamless transition from the home into the school. Knowing
- 47:56 that at home also what's happening nowadays, there is not that early exposure to modern
- 48:03 standard Arabic via let's say a TV that they watch cartoons, children's books that the parents read.
- 48:11 [Hanada Taha]: So all of this stuff,
- 48:13 when it's not happening and they are just immersed and a dialect that is quite different from the MSA
- 48:22 they are exposed to in school, it is really causing this tension,
- 48:26 a lot of tension educational and even at times it could be cultural, cognitive, it,
- 48:34 it could lead to kind of a resistance to learning modern standard Arabic about the relevance of it.
- 48:44 [Femi Oke]: We have so many
- 48:46 questions about this topic, they're all asking the same thing. What do you do about that?
- 48:52 Between standard Arabic and spoken dialect it can be so different from written standard language.
- 48:58 So then what do you do? What are you seeing happening in the Middle East and North Africa,
- 49:04 dealing with this break between a dialect spoken at home and the Arabic spoken at school?
- 49:10 [Hanada Taha]: Thank you. Lovely to speak about solutions
- 49:16 [crosstalk 00:49:14] for events. So there are many things be happening now.
- 49:19 So if you, a couple of weeks ago, probably the World Bank launched this wonderful policy paper
- 49:27 it was on advancing the teaching and learning of Arabic language with the
- 49:33 focus on how do you bridge this journey between the dialects and the modern standard Arabic.
- 49:40 [Hanada Taha]: Now within the various countries that
- 49:43 the discussion is starting to brew in a sense. I know Jordan has just launched a wonderful work
- 49:51 in research, which is something really important for this region, to base our decisions concerning
- 49:58 language of instruction on research, and they are researching the Glossier and the effect it has
- 50:04 on learning. And the solutions are honestly early exposure to modern standard Arabic via
- 50:12 children's books, via cartoons, via the talks, via listening to it, songs, rhymes, all of that stuff.
- 50:22 Making sure that when they enter school, there is actually a well fleshed out program that is
- 50:30 serving as a bridge between the dialects, the home dialects and the MSA curriculum, and ensuring that
- 50:38 the curriculum of the early years uses a lexicon that is very similar to the child's dialect.
- 50:47 [Hanada Taha]: It would be still standard form,
- 50:49 but it's the simplified standard form rather than using a very high language that would just
- 50:55 go beyond what the kids can do. So teacher training is another solution that people are
- 51:03 looking into now. Better teacher preparation in colleges and in universities, which has not
- 51:11 until today, it has not addressed this issue. So going into these different paths and steps will
- 51:21 be extremely helpful in redeeming this gap between the dialects and the modern standard Arabic.
- 51:26 [Femi Oke]: Thank you Hanada. You've been extremely
- 51:28 helpful to help us understand the challenges of language of instruction across the Middle east
- 51:33 and North Africa. Stay with us because I'm going to get all of our round tables speakers to come
- 51:39 back at the end of our program because I want to ask them for a single takeaway that they are going
- 51:44 to condense into a sentence. So they're going to be thinking about that sentence now, for now to
- 51:50 the end of the program. Let me bring in Adama. You may have heard earlier on in our program
- 51:57 that we've talked about the political nature of what the language of instruction is in schools,
- 52:04 but we didn't really, explicitly say why it was political and why
- 52:09 it's controversial. Adama you are so well versed on this topic. Can you break it down?
- 52:15 What would be political about the language that is the official language taught in schools? Why
- 52:21 is it problematic? And then how do you work around that Adama? Nice to see you go ahead.
- 52:31 [Adama Ouane]:
- 52:34 Thank you very much, Amy. Thank you to the World Bank
- 52:39 for this. Excellent. Excellent. It is, as we said, learning and education - [crosstalk 00:52:45].
- 52:48 [Femi Oke]: Adama. If I
- 52:52 may, can I ask you yet? Sit back. Fantastic. That is perfect. Yes. Yes. You have a fine face,
- 52:54 but we were seeing all of it (laughs). Okay. Please continue.
- 52:59 [Adama Ouane]: [Interpretation from French] So
- 53:07 I was saying that, of course not everything is language, but without language education
- 53:12 doesn't make any sense. It's really surprising if not really even disgusting to see that
- 53:22 in spite of all the experiments, all that was said in Britain, there's resistance to adoption. The
- 53:32 language of instruction. People say that there's no language politics, policy in the country.
- 53:40 Well, there are ideas and arguments on this, but at the same time, there's a lot of resistance
- 53:49 from parents, from technical financial partners, from teachers.
- 53:54 [Adama Ouane]: Very often, we talk about the scare crow
- 54:00 when there are so many different languages, the different sense that urban areas,
- 54:05 rural areas. And we talk about the technical aspects of language
- 54:12 as oral tradition. And we talk about the status of languages that are considered second class. And
- 54:22 the population, when they assume that they will be taught in their own language, I mean,
- 54:28 we need to have the materials for that. The costs of producing all that is enormous.
- 54:35 And there is also negative effect on the students. These opinions
- 54:52 are myths and these ideas, wrong ideas, don't resist the results of
- 55:00 research that has been developed for many years though.
- 55:03 [Adama Ouane]: We also need to admit that
- 55:07 languages are only equal before God and linguists, because there are languages that are more
- 55:13 prestigious that are more attractive, and that exists because of their presence in the world.
- 55:23 It's normal that the poor want to be taught or [inaudible] in those languages. So languages of
- 55:33 precision, but we thought for a long time that if you taught children in a language that's not
- 55:39 a very important language, we are wasting your time and we are wasting human capital.
- 55:45 [Adama Ouane]: But in reality, I must say we have asked parents,
- 55:52 "Do you want the happiness of your children or do you want them to learn in this language?"
- 55:56 But that's not the issue. The Document of the World Bank proves clearly that it's not a choice.
- 56:03 It's not a and or, or, but it's, and, and, and- the two issues. We're not trying to
- 56:13 exclude any languages, but we want to reinforce the first language, L1 is fundamental.
- 56:20 And then to learn an L2 or other languages for the needs of communicating with other people or
- 56:28 for work and to live. So the students must acquire their skills in the first language,
- 56:39 L1. It is a tremendous asset for their education, their social inclusion,
- 56:46 for their own autonomy and for the future of society altogether.
- 56:53 [Femi Oke]: Thank you so much. There are
- 56:59 teachers who are really concerned about knowing, they're watching World Bank live now,
- 57:04 they know that their students learn better in the mother tongue, but it's a challenge about how
- 57:12 to make that happen. What would you say to those parents, those teachers who already know what the
- 57:20 policy paper says because they're experiencing it. What would you say to encourage them?
- 57:25 [Adama Ouane]: Well, let me desk the switch in English quickly,
- 57:29 just to say, that in fact that the teachers are right to have concern about teaching in languages
- 57:38 which are not well equipped technically, which have gone to have a good tradition,
- 57:42 which they don't master themselves that often. And we know that this is possible. We have to go
- 57:50 beyond the language itself. Indeed, a package has been outlined right now, which are dealing with
- 57:57 the pedagogy- method of teaching and learning, the support, and also creating a whole ecology of
- 58:05 learning, which facilitate acquisition and further learning into this. So the question is really that
- 58:14 we can teach in any language provided that we have the right method, that we have the right material
- 58:22 and that also we give the right motivation provincial grant for acquiring basic knowledge.
- 58:29 [Femi Oke]: Mm (affirmative). I
- 58:31 have one more question. Thank you, Adama. I have one more question. I'm going to ask
- 58:37 Vista Cynthia, and also to Minister Rauru. And this one question is, but I just want a
- 58:43 very simple answer because it's a great question. And it really speaks to the heart of the matter.
- 58:49 Why are countries still teaching in the language of colonizers? Why is that happening?
- 58:57 I'm a little too enthusiastic about that question (laughs). Cynthia, I just want an immediate,
- 59:02 no filtered response to why it's 2021. Why are we still teaching you the language of
- 59:10 colonizers who were roaming around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries? Cynthia.
- 59:17 [Cinthya Game Vargas]: Or it's a question
- 59:22 is very important because Ecuador is colonized with Spanish and here live any nationalities and
- 59:36 use different language to work, two expressions and 14 language in this region and a different
- 59:48 region in 17 millions in our country. It's very difficult, but now I need to,
- 01:00:03 to live in this, different cultures is very important for Minister and President in Ecuador.
- 01:00:14 [Femi Oke]:
- 01:00:15 Thank you. Let me just bring in. I do notice the irony of, I am speaking in the language of
- 01:00:20 English (laughs), I hear the irony in everything I say. So-
- 01:00:26 [Cinthya Game Vargas]: And English is the second
- 01:00:28 language more in Ecuador, really a language and everybody learn English in the school and know,
- 01:00:43 learn this language of population as different culture [crosstalk] It's very important.
- 01:00:49 [Femi Oke]: Yeah. It's so important and I'm
- 01:00:51 so glad that this is now a trend. It's a movement that we are very aware of. Let me go back to the
- 01:00:55 minister who has this mission in the title of his job. It's in his job title, he's a teacher,
- 01:01:02 he's an educator. Minister, I'm going to ask you this very quickly. Why is Africa still teaching
- 01:01:11 many countries in the language of colonizers, and not in the language of the people who live there?
- 01:01:21 Go ahead. Very briefly though, Minister, because I have to move on to round table two.
- 01:01:24 [French interpreter]: [Interpretation from French]
- 01:01:31 It's due to the past, of course. Education has had the clear objective, which was to train people
- 01:01:45 in order to help the colonizers in what they were doing- translators. And then it went over to
- 01:01:54 education. But there is a basic difference among countries. In Ecuador, they speak 14 language. We
- 01:02:05 have 69 languages and dialects. And then we have the difference between dialects and languages.
- 01:02:16 And we can say, well we have more than 69 languages
- 01:02:21 [French interpreter]: And having to choose one language among 69
- 01:02:28 is going to create frustration and we have to take that into account also. We live in a globalized
- 01:02:37 world so you need to have a common language but we still are in favor of bilingualism,
- 01:02:46 but at the same time, those different languages have to be codified in order to be used today.
- 01:02:54 [Femi Oke]: Right.
- 01:02:55 [French interpreter]: 25 languages are being use in
- 01:02:57 a non-formal education. We have bilingual teaching, but there is still work to do.
- 01:03:05 We can all give up on French or English or Mandarin, or in favor of one
- 01:03:13 national language. We can all do that, but we have to teach and learn in those national languages,
- 01:03:22 but we need a language to be able to work in and to live in a globalized [crosstalk] world.
- 01:03:28 [Femi Oke]: All right, merci Minister.
- 01:03:30 Okay. So that was round table. Number one, for the challenges and how different countries,
- 01:03:37 different regions are approaching language of instruction for their young people.
- 01:03:41 Round table number two is going to be looking strictly at implementation. How do you get this
- 01:03:48 done? So, let me say hello to your panelists for round table number two.
- 01:03:54 We have a Minister grammar, Luca, we have professor Dina Campo, and we have Dia.
- 01:04:02 Nice to see all of you. I am going to get you to do your own introductions very briefly,
- 01:04:08 and then also connect yourself in your brief introduction to language of instruction,
- 01:04:12 why it is important to you, Minister Luca first of all. Nice to see you, please introduce yourself.
- 01:04:18 [Geremew Huluka]: Okay. Thank you. Geremew
- 01:04:23 Huluka, State Minister of Education in Ethiopia. So this issue is very
- 01:04:28 important in the Ethiopian context because it is one of the multilingual society. Thank you.
- 01:04:36 [Femi Oke]:
- 01:04:37 Professor Campo. Nice to see you introduce yourself.
- 01:04:40 [Dina Ocampo]: Thank you again. [foreign language]
- 01:04:47 Hello to everyone. I'm Dina Ocampo. I am a faculty member of the UV College of Education,
- 01:04:53 University of the Philippines. But before this, I worked for four years in the Department of
- 01:05:00 Education as vice minister for curriculum and instruction. And it was my job to
- 01:05:08 institutionalize mother tongue based, multilingual education in the Philippines.
- 01:05:14 [Femi Oke]: Nice to have you. Dhir, the reason why you're here
- 01:05:18 is in the title of your job title. So I'm going to get you to introduce yourself and then everybody
- 01:05:23 will go, "Ah, I know why he's in that round table panel." Go ahead, Dhir. Nice to see you.
- 01:05:28 [Dhir Jhingran]: Hello everyone. I'm Dhir Jhingran,
- 01:05:32 founder and director of the Language and Learning Foundation in India or LLF.
- 01:05:37 LLF was founded with the vision that all children will have strong, foundational skill in their
- 01:05:42 home and additional languages and develop to their full potential. So we are very closely linked with
- 01:05:49 today, evenings language of instruction agenda.
- 01:05:51 [Femi Oke]: All right,
- 01:05:52 great. Okay. Minister, let me start with you. Ethiopia has multiple languages, multiple ethnic
- 01:06:02 groups and so mother tongue instruction is incredibly important, very important.
- 01:06:08 How have you managed it in Ethiopia? What is the template that you can
- 01:06:12 share with other countries who also have multiple languages within their country?
- 01:06:26 Minister, do unmute yourself.
- 01:06:27 [Geremew Huluka]:
- 01:06:31 Sorry, sorry. Yeah. As you know, Ethiopia is the second most populous in Africa and
- 01:06:42 linguistically, as well as culturally it is the most diversified society. We do have more than 80
- 01:06:48 languages. Of course, before 1991, we do have only one language of instruction in Ethiopia.
- 01:06:57 So 1991 change of government from unitary to the federal system has brought opportunity
- 01:07:04 to use different languages as a medium of instruction in Ethiopia. Particularly the 1994
- 01:07:12 Ethiopian Education Training Policy, as well as the 1995 Constitution, as
- 01:07:20 given guarantee for the regions nations and the nationalities to decide their
- 01:07:26 language of instruction, as well as the official language by themselves.
- 01:07:30 [Geremew Huluka]: So this, this opportunity helped Ethiopia to have
- 01:07:37 different language of instructions. Like for example, currently we do have
- 01:07:43 30 languages in which we can teach different subjects and the 50 state languages, which we give
- 01:07:50 as a subject matter. And among this 17 of them are given from first grade to 12th grade. In
- 01:07:58 Ethiopian context, first grade means, age of seven and 12th grade means yeah, [inaudible].
- 01:08:06 [Geremew Huluka]:
- 01:08:09 We are successful in such ways, we are doing our best. We do have constituent back as well as
- 01:08:18 policy issue. Of course Ethiopia has endorsed it for the first time, the language policy of the
- 01:08:26 country. And we are revising our educational policy now. And we are seeing in that how to
- 01:08:34 manage these media of instruction, particularly for the motherland language or mother tongue.
- 01:08:42 [Femi Oke]:
- 01:08:44 Thank you for this. I'll come back to you. Let me just go to, Professor. You spearheaded
- 01:08:52 lots of efforts to get language of instruction, to match the language that children were learning
- 01:08:59 at home and could speak at home. Can you tell us about that? Because again, people want to know.
- 01:09:03 [Femi Oke]: This week at home. Can you tell us about that? Because again, people want to know the how, how do you do this?
- 01:09:06 [Dina Ocampo]: I'll try to do it very quickly. The Philippines
- 01:09:10 has over 170 languages, and in this number of languages, we obviously there are languages that
- 01:09:20 are spoken by very many and languages that are spoken by very small numbers of people.
- 01:09:26 For example, certain indigenous groups would speak unique languages that only their group do use in
- 01:09:34 daily life. So there's a very large variance of numbers, of speakers and so on. It began
- 01:09:44 with many research over decades, and it was always a pendulum swinging between going to English,
- 01:09:52 and using Filipino even as our national language for learning. And then now at the moment we are at
- 01:10:00 multilingual education, we are using 19 languages of education from kindergarten to grade three
- 01:10:09 and many indigenous groups have made their own versions.
- 01:10:13 [Dina Ocampo]: We call this process contextualization Femi.
- 01:10:16 What we do, what the department has done is to create materials that are prototypes, which
- 01:10:24 then different groups or different language groups will now contextualize or localize into their own
- 01:10:31 languages, or better even is that they create their own. So one of the things that I can share
- 01:10:40 is that the implementation is very uneven. There is an effort. There's a huge effort,
- 01:10:48 and it's a continuing effort to improve the implementation and to improve the products
- 01:10:55 that are needed for children, to be able to learn for teachers, to be able to teach and all that,
- 01:11:00 but implementation in such a large country and with many diverse languages can be a challenge.
- 01:11:07 [Dina Ocampo]: Some of the things that had to be done were
- 01:11:12 mentioned in the report, actually, ours is a bit different. We don't deal with only two languages.
- 01:11:20 As I read the report, I noticed that the emphasis was really on a couple of languages,
- 01:11:25 but the Philippines situation is different. We have the local language or the mother tongue,
- 01:11:30 and then there is Filipino, and then there is English. And I was listening
- 01:11:35 to the conversation about why teach English at all, or which is one of the
- 01:11:41 language of one of our colonizer, because we had two or three.
- 01:11:44 [Femi Oke]: I saw you
- 01:11:45 laughing. When that question came up, I saw you chucking.
- 01:11:49 [Dina Ocampo]: And I was part of the research group that actually
- 01:11:54 asked parents and asked communities about that. And this is way back, like over a decade ago.
- 01:12:01 And I've been doing this for very long as well, just like Mr. Adama Ouane. And, we asked them
- 01:12:12 and they said that they were willing to learn, because language politics is also very
- 01:12:17 interesting, dominant languages, large groups of people speaking, also very established languages.
- 01:12:24 [Femi Oke]: And also what
- 01:12:25 might parents be keen to know, what might get my child ahead?
- 01:12:30 [Dina Ocampo]: Yes.
- 01:12:31 [Femi Oke]: If they speak a colonizer language,
- 01:12:35 are they going to do better? Are they going to do better in the world? I know that there are
- 01:12:39 situations in Nigeria where little kids growing up only speak English. They don't. And they're
- 01:12:47 in Nigeria and I'm so furious. I lost my mother tongue because my parents were immigrants and they
- 01:12:52 were scared to teach me Yoruba. They were scared that I would have an accent, which is not true,
- 01:12:59 we all us linguists know, that's not true. So this idea that, that language two,
- 01:13:06 that language two is going to get you ahead. That's very powerful, right, Professor.
- 01:13:09 [Dina Ocampo]: Yes, I call that
- 01:13:13 in one of the things I've written, the language of economic and social mobility,
- 01:13:19 but you know, there's another end to it, which I think is equally important is that
- 01:13:24 people love their language. Their languages. And so the notion of having only Filipino
- 01:13:32 as the Philippines language in schools was also not attractive to them. So, when the discussions
- 01:13:38 with parents went on, one of the things that came up was that if our language were taught in school,
- 01:13:47 which let's say Cebuano or Ilocano, one of the Philippine language is taught in school. And then
- 01:13:53 eventually the children learn also Filipino. And there's no way they're giving up English because
- 01:13:59 they want their children to do that. Then the policy has to listen to these aspirations as well.
- 01:14:07 And, that's the kind of complexity that we are dealing with in the Philippines.
- 01:14:13 [Dina Ocampo]: And I'm sure that many countries around this
- 01:14:16 table, they're dealing with that as well. So mapping that understanding
- 01:14:23 that children will learn better. Absolutely. If they learn in the language that they know
- 01:14:29 in their heart, in their minds, but also that parents have an aspiration that we must listen to.
- 01:14:37 And then there is an identity as a nation that was also important for policy makers.
- 01:14:46 With the work we had to try and work with teacher development,
- 01:14:52 we needed to work on instructional materials development, assessment was the killer,
- 01:14:59 assessment continues to be the most tricky part. I see Hanada nodding her head because that's
- 01:15:05 really where the most difficult part is. And that's still a work in progress where I'm from.
- 01:15:13 [Femi Oke]: Professor
- 01:15:14 [Dina Ocampo]: the lack of, of reading material. If I may, just
- 01:15:20 last point, the lack of reading material, we don't teach children to read for reading’ sake, right.
- 01:15:27 [Dina Ocampo]: We teach children to read, to make themselves
- 01:15:32 happy, for them, to love themselves, to love everything that comes with identity. But it
- 01:15:38 also means being able to relate to others, understand the lives of other communities.
- 01:15:45 And that comes through books for children who are far and of course, multimedia and so on. So,
- 01:15:52 not having sufficient reading material in an ambitious language program
- 01:15:59 will be one of the downfalls of such a program as well. So it's very important to prepare
- 01:16:06 those. And, I'm not talking about textbooks. I'm talking about happy books, trade books.
- 01:16:11 [Femi Oke]: Reading for fun, you know when
- 01:16:13 the kids sit in the corner and they're just lost in a book, what language is that book written in?
- 01:16:18 [Dina Ocampo]: That's why we're teaching them to read.
- 01:16:21 [Femi Oke]: Yeah,
- 01:16:22 professor, thank you. I love the way that you describe why we read. I sometimes forget that.
- 01:16:29 I think it's a utilitarian process and I forget how much as a little one. I
- 01:16:33 love reading. Oh my goodness. I said, thank you so much. You're not dismissed yet.
- 01:16:43 I'm going to come back to you, but just bring in Dhir because the language and learning foundation
- 01:16:49 has done a lot of work on this, and has evidence on
- 01:16:53 language one. That mother tongue instruction for young people. What can you share with us today?
- 01:16:58 [Dhir Jhingran]: Thank you, Femi. We work with in
- 01:17:02 collaboration with government state governments, because we want to bring about transformation at
- 01:17:07 scale in the teaching and learning process, get children's languages in the classroom.
- 01:17:12 We work on three major dimensions. When we work with state governments. The first is continuous
- 01:17:18 professional development. Within the government education systems, teachers, teacher educators,
- 01:17:23 master trainers, educational administrators. Helping create awareness, commitment, and capacity
- 01:17:31 to include children's languages and on multilingual education. Because the challenges
- 01:17:35 here are not about just knowledge and skills. These are beliefs and attitudes about non-dominant
- 01:17:41 languages, whether they should find place in the classroom, about purity of use of language,
- 01:17:46 about use of mixed language, et cetera. So what we do is we run blended courses of varying durations
- 01:17:55 in multiple modes, online, synchronous, asynchronous, pure learning interaction,
- 01:18:01 face-to-face workshops, sharing resources over WhatsApp, et cetera, handouts printed materials.
- 01:18:06 [Dhir Jhingran]: And our courses vary from about
- 01:18:09 just five hours to six weeks. And they're usually led by the government, an academic institution in
- 01:18:15 the government. So, that's our first pillar of work. The second is demonstration programs
- 01:18:21 to be creating a proof of concept that how L1 can be effectively used to improve learning
- 01:18:28 at school. And this is done in collaboration with governments, again in 50, 100, 200 or 500 schools.
- 01:18:35 The third pillar of our work is what we call system reform.
- 01:18:40 I have myself worked in the government for 25 years. So we don't actually go to
- 01:18:44 the government and say, we are here to reform you. We use our work of-
- 01:18:50 [Femi Oke]: That would not go down well, Dhir.
- 01:18:52 [Dhir Jhingran]: I know. So, what we do
- 01:18:54 is because of the professional development work and demonstration programs, we sort
- 01:18:59 of get an entry into things like pre-service teacher education. When teachers are recruited
- 01:19:06 to be able to bring in issues of linguistic diversity and multilingual education there.
- 01:19:12 How do you adjust learning outcome frameworks and assessments? Which was just mentioned
- 01:19:17 to ensure that children's languages are taken into account. And for example, language portals
- 01:19:23 in recruitment of teachers, so that teachers know children's languages. So these are approaches
- 01:19:29 to use these three pillars of work to try and bring about change at scale. Thank you.
- 01:19:34 [Femi Oke]: One of the things
- 01:19:35 that the professor mentioned Dhir, and I really like that, she was very honest, was talking about
- 01:19:41 the roadblocks to implementation, for instance, not having enough books. Once you start teaching
- 01:19:47 in language one in the mother tongue, but maybe you don't have enough material.
- 01:19:53 What are the challenges that you can see? What are they, because when you implement,
- 01:19:57 when you're doing implementation, you want to learn from other people's
- 01:20:01 mistakes. What are the mistakes that you've seen that you want to warn our viewers about?
- 01:20:07 [Dhir Jhingran]: Yeah,
- 01:20:10 I think children's materials are absolutely crucial, fun, interesting, simple materials. And,
- 01:20:17 that's crucial for learning as well. I think the mistake that many civil society organizations do
- 01:20:24 is to just make good materials. What's more important. And governments are looking for is,
- 01:20:32 are these materials linked to the curriculums, to the learning outcomes? And therefore it's
- 01:20:37 very important because we to introduce L1's students strong and home languages
- 01:20:42 formally in the classroom, is to be able to design materials that align with the curriculum
- 01:20:48 and learning outcomes. And to be able to show that this will result in improved learning.
- 01:20:53 [Femi Oke]:
- 01:20:54 I want to bring back the minister for education in Ethiopia. I have a question for you. It's such
- 01:21:00 a great question. A plus for this question on World Bank live, how does Ethiopia manage
- 01:21:06 national exams at the end of secondary school with so many languages being taught?
- 01:21:10 [Geremew Huluka]:
- 01:21:13 Oh, actually this country school is taught in English, by the way. It's not by, okay.
- 01:21:21 [Geremew Huluka]: [crosstalk]
- 01:21:22 [Femi Oke]: So all of
- 01:21:23 that wonderful implementation you were telling me about stops at what age? 10 11.
- 01:21:28 [Geremew Huluka]: Yeah. And some-
- 01:21:32 [Femi Oke]: And the thinking behind that minister is what the, by that time you feel the kids are confident
- 01:21:36 in English, that they can then do their entire secondary school in English?
- 01:21:41 [Geremew Huluka]: Yeah. They learn all the subjects
- 01:21:45 in secondary school in English. They can learn their language as a subject. So then-
- 01:21:53 [Femi Oke]: This explains to me why I have so many
- 01:21:56 extraordinary conversations with Ethiopians, because they've had to learn English from
- 01:21:59 secondary school. They have to speak English from secondary school. Do you think that this may well
- 01:22:06 hinder the learning of secondary school students? If they have to learn in English?
- 01:22:12 [Geremew Huluka]: Yeah. The that's one of the challenges we have in
- 01:22:15 Ethiopia by the way. It was a debate. Some people argue that our students should have strong English
- 01:22:29 and others argue that no, they have to have knowledge in their mother tongue.
- 01:22:34 [Femi Oke]: Who's winning that argument minister?
- 01:22:37 [Geremew Huluka]: Yeah. Different individuals like
- 01:22:41 experts, actually. The government commitment is high in improving the mother tongue. And
- 01:22:49 also we are working on how to improve English it is maybe separate project. We are
- 01:22:56 planning to intervene, English communication in middle school, like seventh and eight grade.
- 01:23:01 [Femi Oke]: How powerful are you, minister?
- 01:23:03 Could you just say, let's teach secondary school in language one. Can you do that? No.
- 01:23:12 Professor on camera is like no, that's not going to happen. You're just making trouble moderator.
- 01:23:18 [Geremew Huluka]: No.
- 01:23:23 We do have document, which we call education roadmap. That roadmap recommends us to continue
- 01:23:33 teaching our students up even secondary school in their mother tongue. So Ethiopia
- 01:23:39 in the future will move to this recommendation. We don't have problem doing this, but it's a question
- 01:23:47 of capacity. And, there are so many challenges to do this. Otherwise, we do have such commitment.
- 01:23:53 [Femi Oke]: All right. Wonderful. Round table number one
- 01:23:58 and round table number two, here is your challenge in a sentence. How do we move and make progress
- 01:24:08 with youngsters, so that language one is a language that they are taught in
- 01:24:14 when they go to school for the first time? It is a sentence. A hashtag is language of learning.
- 01:24:22 So your sentence, if it's great enough, people will be tweeting it out. Minister. Oh,
- 01:24:28 I'm volunteering you to start. What is your sentence?
- 01:24:31 [Geremew Huluka]:
- 01:24:32 Oh, okay. It might be long sentence. Let me try it.
- 01:24:35 [Femi Oke]: It's not a long sentence.
- 01:24:39 You not get to trick me. It's a short sentence.
- 01:24:43 [Geremew Huluka]: Any how, allowing children to learn
- 01:24:48 with their mother tongue is not only pedagogical issue, but also the right of the Children.
- 01:24:53 [Femi Oke]: Fantastic. Short sentence.
- 01:24:55 I love it. Thank you, minister, professor Ocampo. Your sentence. That is tweetable is what
- 01:25:03 [Dina Ocampo]: I think my sentence would be,
- 01:25:07 show that it works and then extend it. That's my sentence. Show, prove that it works.
- 01:25:12 [Femi Oke]: Proves that it works.
- 01:25:14 [Dina Ocampo]:
- 01:25:15 Yeah. And that's honest to goodness assessment that we need.
- 01:25:18 [Femi Oke]: Very practical
- 01:25:19 as well. Dhir, what is your sentence? Go ahead.
- 01:25:22 [Dhir Jhingran]: We need to work on two panel tracks. First design
- 01:25:26 programs that are highly contextualized, and sort of boutique mother tongue based
- 01:25:31 multilingual education, but alongside because the scale is so large, develop pragmatic. Even
- 01:25:37 if imperfect solutions for including children's L1 in instruction in a variety of ways.
- 01:25:42 [Femi Oke]: Dhir, this is a paragraph. I can't tweet it,
- 01:25:45 but I love the paragraph. All right. Round table. Number one. Welcome back. Lovely to see you,
- 01:25:50 Minister Ouaro and Burkina Faso. One sentence. You're an educator.
- 01:25:54 I know you can do it. One sentence. Go ahead.
- 01:26:00 Unmute yourself Minister. What is your one sentence to help us move forward
- 01:26:07 with language of instruction? Make progress a single sentence.
- 01:26:11 [French interpreter]: I know it seems a one.
- 01:26:17 We have all the skills. We have everything that we need to do that, but we need to be supported,
- 01:26:25 if we need the financial support from our partners who include national languages in schools.
- 01:26:36 [Femi Oke]: Cynthia,
- 01:26:37 I know you can rise to this challenge. Your sentence is what?
- 01:26:46 Is Cynthia still here? Does did she disappear,
- 01:26:48 because it was too much pressure? Let me move on to Hanada. Hi, Hanada professor.
- 01:26:53 Hanada Taha-Endowed: Hi there.
- 01:26:54 [Femi Oke]: Go Ahead.
- 01:26:55 Hanada Taha-Endowed: All right. So early effective and
- 01:26:58 smart exposure to modern standard Arabic would pave the way to personal and national growth.
- 01:27:05 [Femi Oke]: Very nice. Adama You spent your lifetime working
- 01:27:11 on this and now I'm giving you one sentence, but I know you can do it. Go ahead. Adama.
- 01:27:16 [Adama Ouane]: Quality education for all
- 01:27:18 is possible by increasing considerably the number of language of instruction.
- 01:27:23 [Femi Oke]: Yes, very good. All right. I believe I've
- 01:27:26 gone through everybody and now I promise you that I would return to Jaime. Jaime I'm fascinated to
- 01:27:33 hear your reflections on what we've been talking about for the last almost 90 minutes Jaime.
- 01:27:38 [Jaime Saavedra]: Oh, thank you very much Femi
- 01:27:40 for your fantastic collaboration. I have to say first that the executive summary of this report
- 01:27:48 will be accessible, will be translated, will be in English, in Spanish in French in Portuguese,
- 01:27:52 and Arabic, in Swahili, in Hausa, in Wolof and in the next few days or
- 01:28:00 weeks, it will be in Urdu and in Quechua. And I'm just asking the team.
- 01:28:04 I'm just WhatsApping them, if we can do it in Yoruba before you ask me.
- 01:28:08 [Femi Oke]: Thank you! [Inaudible]
- 01:28:11 [Adama Ouane]: In Fulfulde also.
- 01:28:12 [Jaime Saavedra]: Okay. Okay. We'll-
- 01:28:16 [Femi Oke]: Oh, You started a riot now,
- 01:28:19 [Jaime Saavedra]: Right, but actually I think it's a very important
- 01:28:22 point. Because we usually translate to Spanish, French, Arabic, but not to these other languages,
- 01:28:30 so that's something that we need to think about. Why is that we're doing it? So this
- 01:28:35 has been an extremely fantastic conversation. Let me mention just three things. One is that
- 01:28:41 it's a difficult balance because it's about balancing politics, the labor market, needs
- 01:28:49 that parents see for their children, but it's also about national identity is about
- 01:28:55 that kids should feel that they're included in school. And it's also about kids being happy.
- 01:29:03 So we need to balance the whole thing. For kids to be happy, they need to feel
- 01:29:07 included in school. And that will most likely happen if they're taught in the right language.
- 01:29:13 [Jaime Saavedra]: So we need to balance all those things
- 01:29:15 and in order to take the right decisions. Second point, and this is great, that several emphasize
- 01:29:20 that it's not a choice. This is not about let's learn this language or this other language. No,
- 01:29:25 we can learn what we call L1. The national, the language at home that will build the foundations
- 01:29:34 to learn better. Not only another language, could be another two or three languages,
- 01:29:40 and learn other materials. So it's really not a choice. But third,
- 01:29:44 we need to recognize it is a challenge. It isn't that easy because as many were saying,
- 01:29:49 this is creating a whole ecosystem. It's not just the books or the reading material.
- 01:29:53 It's great to have that. And we need to have that. We need to have the prepared teachers.
- 01:29:56 [Jaime Saavedra]: We need to have the whole ecosystem
- 01:29:58 that supports teaching in more than one language. Actually, that's what we're aiming at. It's
- 01:30:05 if there's language diversity, let's embrace that language diversity, let's tackle the issue from
- 01:30:13 the perspective of education system challenges, but then use this to build a better future for
- 01:30:20 our children. I think we have a huge challenge in our hands, but we really need to make progress on
- 01:30:29 this agenda. That has been the lifetime work of Adama, for example and of professor Ocampo.
- 01:30:40 But it's great that we have people that have this as a challenge for their lives, because really
- 01:30:44 this will be one way in which we can really change the lives of our children and give them
- 01:30:50 a better future. So thanks to everyone for this, but this is just one small step and a long journey
- 01:30:56 that we'll need to continue in order to improve our education systems. Thank you very much Femi.
- 01:31:02 [Femi Oke]: Thank you Jaime, [crosstalk 01:31:05]
- 01:31:04 As well. Appreciate that speakers for fantastic round table. Number one, round table. Number two.
- 01:31:11 World Bank live audience. You are on fire. I love your questions, did you hear me feed them all the
- 01:31:16 way through our conversation? Thank you everybody for taking part. This wraps up loud and clear,
- 01:31:22 teach children in a language they use and understand. Thanks for watching. Take care.
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Director for Strategy and Operations in Human Development, World Bank
Regional Director for Human Development in the Africa West and Central Region, World Bank