Meanwhile, UNDP's Human Development Report (HDR) 2004 informs us that in Sub-Saharan Africa, "only 13% of the children who receive primary education do so in their mother tongue" (p. 33). Amongst the indigenous peoples in Andhra Pradesh this figure is zero.
This is because the 31% of Andhra Pradesh's STs who are literate, are literate in the state's medium of instruction, Telugu, and not in their mother tongues. (Only now is there a DFID-funded state-government 'pilot' project to develop primary school reading materials in eight indigenous languages.)
The HDR goes on to ask, "Does a lack of education in one's mother tongue stall development? Research suggests that the answer might be yes."
1. "It is now well established that when a child begins learning in his or her first language that child is more likely to succeed academically and is better able to learn additional languages."
2. "The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, states that all children have the right to education (Article 28), and the right to learn and use the language of their family (Article 30)." (The 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples further supports this.)
3. "A recent review of cost-benefit analyses for the 2006 African Education Ministers' Meeting shows that education programmes starting with the mother tongue and gradually moving into other languages lead to cost savings compared to monolingual programmes. If they are more expensive at the beginning, costs decrease over time and savings (not paying for children to repeat years, for example) far exceed initial investment."
Thus, educational theory, a rights-based approach, and returns on investment all indicate the desirability of a mother-tongue medium based multilingual education.
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