"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"
A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend
Download: KEPP First year results, 190kB
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Download: Preliminary report
Multilingual Education connects children to learning
In multilingual education (MLE) programs, children begin school in their mother-tongue and then add English and French, gradually building competency in all three languages. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of MLE, SIL is conducting a study in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. The Kom Education Pilot Project (KEPP) uses Kom, the mother-tongue of children, as the language of instruction in the classroom. The results from the first year indicate students in the program showed superior performance in every area tested, even English.
“The children in class one are interested in the class work. They take an active part… They can actually read.”
Ndifet Simon, Fundong Sub Divisional Inspector for Basic Education
MLE connects families to the schools
Often the language of instruction in the school limits the parents’ understanding and participation in their children’s education. In MLE programs the parents are not only able to communicate, but their knowledge is valued as well.
“It is wonderful! My child returns from school and teaches me our own Kom proverbs.”
Father of a KEPP student
“When a child goes to a mother-tongue school, the child continues learning concepts based on knowledge the parents already taught at home. However, if it is a school that is not a mother-tongue school, all that the child had gathered, the basket of knowledge the child carried on his head to school on the first day, is emptied. It is thrown away.”
Kain Godfrey Chuo, KEPP Coordinator
Word of the success of the Kom Education Pilot Project has become known and other language groups are asking about extension to their areas. It is hoped that the Bafut and Oku languages will begin formal MLE classes in the coming school year. Plans are being made to initiate similar projects in different regions of the country as well.
“International awareness of the importance of ‘Education for All’ has grown. Yet, the only schooling available in many rural communities uses a language students do not understand or speak. Students who cannot understand what their teacher is saying quickly become discouraged. Multilingual Education (MLE) programs acknowledge the right of all learners to education in a language they speak and understand.”
Susan Malone, MLE Consultant SIL International
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