Finding identity, equity, and economic strength by teaching in languages children understand: mother tongue based multilingual education designed for schools in Pakistan

Author(s): Khan, Minha

Organisation(s): The Citizens Foundation (Pakistan); Thar Foundation (Pakistan)

Date: 2020

Pages: 115 p.


There is growing support for mother tongue based multilingual education (MTB MLE) worldwide. While previous research has primarily addressed the need and impact of MTB MLE programs, there is limited guidance available on how to design such programs for low-resource and linguistically diverse contexts. As a result, many practitioners acknowledge the importance of MTB MLE but find it challenging to implement. This report is an effort to bridge the gap between theory and practice by offering guidance on designing an MTB MLE program for linguistically heterogeneous contexts. The research compounds fndings from academic literature on MTB MLE, the study of global MTB MLE programs, interviews with practitioners, policymakers, and academics worldwide, and a pilot socio-linguistic survey carried out in parts of Tharparkar, Pakistan. These fndings enabled the creation of guiding principles which facilitate the holistic development of a contextualized MTB MLE program. This includes an emphasis on language decisions, teaching and learning materials, environment, recruitment, capacity building, and pedagogy, community engagement, and program evaluation. The report also outlines the process of using the guiding principles to develop a context-specifc language progression plan which dictates the proposed language journey of a child’s education, beginning with the most familiar language in the early years and then gradually incorporating additional languages. It is hoped that these guiding principles will assist practitioners in developing an MTB MLE model that is best suited to their diverse multilingual contexts.

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