"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"
A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend
A Strong Foundation for Future Success
Effective learner-oriented education starts with what students know and moves to what they do not know. Before attending school for the first time, children have learned a great deal from their home environment. Their mother tongue is one of their biggest ‘known’ pools of knowledge. Using their mother tongue as the language of instruction in math, reading, writing, and even a foreign language is making use of what they already know in order to effectively teach them what they need to learn.
The value and importance of MLE is affirmed by major organizations such as UNESCO, the World Bank, Save the Children, the Francophonie and SIL International. SIL Cameroon has been implementing a full program of MLE in the North West Region which has demonstrated how effective the approach is. The Kom Education Pilot Project (KEPP) is in its fourth year. The first year showed performance gains of more than 300% as compared to students taught using English as the language of instruction. Even more significant is the fact that the project continued to show strong gains in subsequent years. In the third year, for example, despite the fact that the testing for both groups of students was carried out in English, the MLE group outperformed by 100% the learners whose instruction was based on English. This shows that the MLE program helped students master all of the subjects, including English as a second language.
See reports under Focus Areas/Literacy & Education/Multilingual Education
These results strongly suggest that substantial gains in Cameroon’s educational performance can be achieved by implementing MLE programs across the nation. SIL Cameroon in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education is active in its MLE efforts in seven different languages across the nation. Positive results similar to those already achieved are expected from these programs.