Monday, June 22, 2015

MTB-MLE Education Challenge

Studies around the world, including in Europe, have shown that MTB-MLE education increases school attendance as well as school performance. Parents can relate more to the schooling and participate in it because it begins in a language which they are also competent in. Students feel more valued when the language of instruction, to begin with, is one which they already know. They are able to succeed in the beginning parts of school, which leads to a positive experience in school and reinforces their willingness to attend. Using the children’s language also shows a respect for them and for their culture. It is an attitude towards the children which fosters mutual respect and care. Learning to read is a skill which can be transferred from one language to another. But it can be transferred better if the child has a firm foundation in learning to read. They can get this best in a language which they thoroughly understand. It is not difficult to begin by having teachers use the local language in preschool and other early grades. This might involve hiring teachers’ assistants who are fluent in the local language. But, again, this would probably increase school attendance. Increasing school attendance should increase school performance. It would require a shift in many people’s thinking—in school staff’s attitudes towards Roma and Romani, in the community’s attitude towards the complexity and validity of their own language. But the rewards would be worth it. Shall we try it for 2 years?

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