This article has been published in Enabling Education 12
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Useful publications: Language and inclusion

Nguyen Thi Bich and Dinh Phuong Thao

Girls, Educational Equity and Mother Tongue-based Teaching
Carol Benson/UNESCO Bangkok, 2005
This publication looks at the links between girls, education and exclusion; the barriers to girls’ inclusion; and mother-tongue based education approaches for improving girls’ participation.

Highland Children’s Education Project: A pilot project on bilingual education in Cambodia
UNESCO, 2005
This report documents the model of bilingual primary education provided in the north-eastern province of Ratanakiri. It looks at issues of policy, and the implementation and expansion of the project.
Available from:

id21 Insights Education No.5, 2006
This edition focuses on children’s right to learn in their own language. It contains articles about Bolivia, Vietnam and India; and also covers issues such as gender and language, and the cost-effectiveness of mother-tongue teaching and learning.
Available in English, French and Spanish from:

Mother Language First
Khagrachari Hill District Council, Zabarang Kalyan Samity, and Save the Children, 2007
This report documents the work carried out on mother-tongue based multi-lingual education in Bangladesh.
Available as a PDF file on CD or by email from EENET

Mother Tongue Education is Best
Kathleen Heugh
This short article provides a useful overview of the issues surrounding the use of mother-tongue in education, including its impact on learning outcomes and cost-effectiveness.
Available from:

SIL International;s website
SIL is an international linguistic NGO. SIL language teams live within language communities and study phonetics, phonology and grammar. They help develop written scripts, produce mother-tongue materials, and run literacy/education programmes.Their website contains a range of articles, guidance documents and research papers on multi-lingual education and mother-tongue literacy.

Many of the documents listed here are available on the Internet. If you are based in a Southern country and are unable to access these documents online, contact EENET and we will put them onto a CD-ROM for you, or send you print-outs.

Key articles from international conventions

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 (Article 30)
“In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.”

Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, 1989 (Article 28 )
“1. Children belonging to the peoples concerned shall, wherever practicable, be taught to read and write in their own indigenous language or in the language most commonly used by the group to which they belong. When this is not practicable, the competent authorities shall undertake consultations with these peoples with a view to the adoption of measures to achieve this objective.
2. Adequate measures shall be taken to ensure that these peoples have the opportunity to attain fluency in the national language or in one of the official languages of the country.
3. Measures shall be taken to preserve and promote the development and practice of the indigenous languages of the peoples concerned.”