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Fwd: Cultural identity for toddlers (bilingual ed. in PNG)

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  • Donald Z. Osborn
    FYI, an interesting story about how the world s most linguistically diverse country has implemented a bilingual education approach by beginning at the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26, 2005
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      FYI, an interesting story about how the world's most linguistically diverse
      country has implemented a bilingual education approach by beginning at the
      pre-school level. (Fwd from ILAT)... DZO

      Education Today Newsletter
      JULY - SEPTEMBER 2005

      Cultural identity for toddlers

      Until 1995, education in Papua New Guinea, an island nation in the South
      Pacific, was in English.

      As the world's most linguistically diverse nation, with 823 living languages
      spoken by a population of 5.2 million, there may have been some logistic value
      in this, but it did little to foster a sense of national and cultural identity.
      In 1979, parents in Bougainville Island, in North Solomons Province put forward
      the idea of providing their children with two years of pre-school education in
      their own language, before the first grade of primary school, which would be in
      English. The Viles Tok Ples Skul (village language school) was born, later
      becoming the Tok Ples Pri Skul (vernacular language pre-school).

      During the 1980s three other provincial governments and four other language
      communities followed suit. Vernacular language pre-schools sprung up elsewhere
      over the next decade, but remained informal, with no national curriculum, and
      with teaching materials prepared by NGOs. The education reforms of 1995 finally
      led to the development of a national curriculum, encouraging vernacular
      language teaching in the two years before primary school, with a gradual
      introduction of English after that. By fifth grade, teaching is 30 per cent in
      the local language, 70 per cent in English. At the end of 2000, vernacular
      language pre-schools were teaching in 380 language groups.

      A similar initiative is just beginning in Vanuatu, also in Melanesia, which has
      some 106 local languages for a population of just 200,000. And, in New Zealand,
      Te köhanga reo ("language nest") is a total immersion programme for Maori
      children from birth to age 6, where they speak Maori and learn within an
      indigenous cultural context. The programme started in 1982.

      From UNESCO Policy Briefs on Early Childhood, October 2002

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