Bonnie, Thanks for this info. I'll comment on the AED report and girls'
education below...

Re the AED report, I was surprised in my scanning (and word searches) of the
document not to find a single mention of language(s) of instruction. This would
be a big omission in a report of this importance, as it is an issue getting
increased attention with efforts to expand basic education in poorer countries.
In Africa, at least, it is unavoidable. For instance, a recent international
conference and upcoming meeting:
* Conference on Bilingual Education and the Use of Local Languages (3-5 August
2005, Windhoek, Namibia)
* Languages and Education in Africa (LEA 2006; 19-22 June 2006, Oslo, Norway)

There are a lot of examples from within individual African countries of how the
issues of language of instruction and  bilingual/multilingual curricula are
important, for instance:
* Significant public discussion about languages and education in South Africa, a
country that has 11 official languages
* A request by a teachers' union in Zambia that science and math be taught in
first languages (they noted that their students were not learning these
subjects well in the English-only curriculum - this is no surprise, since
people of any age anywhere learn most effectively in their strongest language,
and English there is a second/additional language)
* Translation of educational materials from French into national languages in
Senegal such as Wolof and Pulaar (though the point has been made that it would
be more sensible to *design* certain materials, especially for reading, in
these languages) for expanding elementary ed.
* Successful community schools program in Mali, using Bambara and other first
languages in "transitional bilingual education" approach (though "transitional"
is only one approach to bilingual ed.)
* Decision by Morocco in 2003 to use the Tifinagh script in Amazight (Berber)
language instruction in primary schools (this was also an impetus for the
recent completion of encoding of Tifinagh in Unicode, BTW)
* And diverse efforts of longer or more recent standing elsewhere on the

Clearly, language of instruction is a vitally important issue for expansion of
education and improvement of its quality in Africa, and presumably no less so
in other regions (though it may be a less contested issue in other areas). It
certainly would seem an important variable in evaluating the impact and success
of elementary education. It is also a key consideration in allocating resources
for materials production, teacher training etc.
Re girls' education, this is also a key area for improvement and although many
agencies and governments acknowledge it, it is good to remind folks of it.

At the risk of seeming tedious on the point, I would offer that language of
instruction is also a consideration in girls' ed. It has been noted that girls
and women in Africa tend on the average to speak fewer languages than men, and
have less command of the official languages (English, French, Portuguese) which
double as the main or only languages of schooling (Clinton Robinson's 1996 book
on language and development in Africa has some observations and references).
This doesn't make girls' need for first language/bilingual education more than
that of boys, of course, but it does mean that when primary schooling takes
place uniquely in a language other than that of the home and community, mothers
may be more left out of the process than men. Among other things, this amounts
to a mother-daughter divide, and in places where families are reluctant to send
their daughters to school, one is tempted to see this as one of the reasons

First-language/bilingual education makes sense, then, for pedagogical reasons
and family (and community) reasons. As such, the question of language(s) of
instruction seems an essential topic to at least take note of in any discussion
of educating the world's children.

When you bring in the issue of ICT in education, and the importance for girls in
it, there are also tie-ins with efforts to localize software and internet
content in first languages - something that is getting more attention globally
(including in Africa). But that's a topic to bring up again another day...

Don Osborn

> "Many developing countries have made dramatic progress over the past several
> decades to enroll their children in school. Still, too many children—
> especially girls and those in rural areas—are out of school or leave school
> before 
> graduating from the primary level and have little opportunity to attend
> secondary  
> school." This excerpt is from the recently released report Educating the 
> World's Children: Patterns of Growth and Inequality, authored by the
> Education 
> Policy and Data Center at the Academy for Educational Development (AED). To
> read 
> the report, visit 
> I had a petition to share but it was too large to put on line. I will ask 
> Claudia if she will give us a url, to the document so that others can support
> it.
> It starts out here.
> Recognizing that there are many business, civil society, government, and 
> non-government organizations working both collaboratively and independently
> to 
> conduct research, build awareness, and promote programs to remove the
> barriers 
> that currently restrict girls' and women's access to and use of information
> and 
> communication technologies (ICTs), impede their technology literacy, and 
> discourage their full participation in the ownership, development, control,
> and 
> management of ICTs,
> Recalling the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome 
> document adopted at the 23rd special session of the General Assembly entitled
> “
> Gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century,” on the
> potential of ICTs to contribute to the advancement and empowerment of women,
> I hope Claudia will make the url available to you. I blind copied her .. not
> sure to I have permission to give out her Email. .
> Bonnie Bracey Sutton
> bbracey aol com
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