Painel 6: Aspirations vs. reality for language of instruction

Painel 6: Aspirations vs. reality for language of instruction

  • Valentina Asquini (Humana People to People)

Over sixty years have passed since UNESCO’s endorsement of mother tongue instruction, however a large majority of children still learn in an unfamiliar language (UNESCO, 1953). Mozambique is no exception. Instruction is in Portuguese, when only 10% of the population speaks Portuguese as a first language (National Institute for Education Development, 2014). In the early 1990s, a group of forward-thinking Mozambican educators introduced a bilingual education pilot to reduce attrition and improve learning (Benson, 2000). Over twenty-five years later, the bilingual experiment has entered education policy, but continues on a small scale, due to limited resources and support (Capra International, 2013).
This presentation focuses on a case study from the USDA-funded Reforca de Leitura e Escrita (Reading and Writing Reinforcement) program managed by Planet Aid and implementing partners, which highlights the challenges of negotiating language of instruction reform within a context of differing values and priorities.

This paper presents our program as a case study about the process of reaching understanding of, and negotiating around differences in the effort to reach a common goal. Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para o Povo (ADPP) and Cambridge Education are partners in Planet Aid’s Food for Knowledge project, funded by the US Department of Agriculture under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. The intervention targets rural primary schools in four districts of Maputo province, run by the Ministry of Education and Human Development. Effectively, this is a partnership between the above three organizations and the Ministry of Education and Human Development with a common goal: the improvement in participating schools of the teaching and learning of literacy in the first three years of schooling.
While the goal of improved learner performance is unequivocally shared by all involved, the roles, priorities, and hence approaches of each are different. These differing perspectives and priorities serve both as strengths and challenges. A key part of the implementation process is also about how to valorize, understand, and respect the strengths of the differing perspectives, noting that though initiated in the US, this program is implemented by and for the people of Mozambique. How do we best negotiate our early grade reading program, based on the evidence of what works best in the U.S. (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000) and other developing country programs (as cited in Kim, et al., 2016) while taking into account the context, history and politics of Ensino Bilingue (Ministry’s bilingual education program running in some schools since 2003)? Are beliefs about what counts as reading in the US, the same as beliefs about reading in Mozambique? Understanding that teacher knowledge and beliefs are underpinnings to their classroom practice (McEwan, 2014; Westbrook, et al., 2013), what are the implications of this for the development of the reading program? Can we frame scripted lesson plans as scaffolding to foster teacher autonomy and creativity, which are central to the teacher education policy in Mozambique?
The program is only in its second year, so no impact data are yet available. However, the internally implemented baseline study and the classroom observation instruments completed by the reading coaches provide interesting information not only about learner performance but also about early grade teachers’ understandings of literacy, and their own literacy practices.
The paper seeks to highlight rather than minimize these differing perspectives and to show how in the process of rolling out the program, the need to establish ways to contribute to, trust and learn from one another is as much a key element of the success of the program as are the methodology and materials.

Benson, Carolyn J. (2000) “The Primary Bilingual Education Experiment in Mozambique, 1993 to 1997” International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 3:3, p. 149-150
McEwan, P. J. (2014). Improving learning in primary schools of developing countries: A meta-analysis of randomized experiments. Review of Educational Research, 1–42.
National Institute for Education Development (Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação). (2014). Avaliação nacional da 3a classe (National Evaluation of Grade 3). Maputo: Ministry of Education.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Ngunga, Armindo (2011) “Monolingual education in a multilingual setting: The case of Mozambique” Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 6:2, p. 187
UNESCO (1953). The use of the vernacular languages in education. Monographs on Foundations of Education, No. 8. Paris: UNESCO, p. 11.
Westbrook J, Durrani N, Brown R, Orr D, Pryor J, Boddy J, & Salvi F (2013). Pedagogy, Curriculum, Teaching Practices and Teacher Education in Developing Countries. Final Report. Education Rigorous Literature Review. Department for International Development.

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