What does it mean to be included in education?
Children learn best in a language they understand well. But over 220 million children do not have access to education in their own language. SIL literacy and education consultants are passionate about fostering multilingual education (MLE) practices that allow children to be fully included in educational opportunities.
In 2017, SIL consultants provided services to improve MLE programs worldwide, including:
- Consultant services in Africa, benefiting children in more than 150 languages
- Assistance in the RISE PNG program in Papua New Guinea, producing 64 stories for beginning readers in each of 31 languages
- SIL technology tools such as Bloom book-making software and SIL’s Andika font, widely preferred for literacy
“When a child goes to a mother-tongue school, she 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 ‘container of knowledge’ she carried on her head to school on the first day, is emptied.” —MLE Specialist, Cameroon
What does it mean to be included in information exchange?
Digital information exchange in today’s world presents major challenges to users of non-dominant languages. These challenges are compounded by complex writing systems. In 2017, SIL font developers added three new and five enhanced fonts to SIL’s collection of 27 fonts. One of these fonts, Awami Nastaliq, serves a wide variety of language communities in southwest Asia whose languages are written in the complex and beautiful Nastaliq script. SIL’s Graphite font technology was also upgraded to provide authentic rendering for complex scripts such as Nastaliq. Altogether, nearly 600 languages are served by SIL’s 23 non-Roman fonts.
“Thank you so much for making some of the best, most comprehensive fonts available, particularly for languages which use the Arabic script. Awami Nastaliq, in particular, recreates the typographic color and texture of handwritten Nastaliq texts far better than any other font I have seen.” —Urdu speaker
What does it mean to be included in decision making?
Non-dominant language communities face unprecedented pressure to abandon their local language and identity. SIL’s Guide to Planning the Future of Our Language helps communities understand the factors impacting their language and the resources available to them. Using the Guide’s assessment process, community members can make decisions about the future of their language. As of 2017, the Guide (now translated into at least 14 languages) has been used in assessments for more than 200 languages.
In the Philippines, SIL-trained university researchers are using the Guide to help communities assess the vitality of their languages. Some communities have initiated language instruction after realizing their language was in danger of dying. They now feel motivated and empowered to take steps to preserve their languages.
“In the past we always blamed outsiders for making us lose our language, but now I see that we have to take responsibility. We have to make the decision to take back our language and culture.” —Yanesha speaker, Peru