Job Barallas
01 May 2023

Call for case studies: Digital transformation of mother tongue-based and multilingual education: learners’ languages for quality and inclusive digital learning

Digital transformation of education presents important opportunities for closing the learning gap for children from ethnolinguistic minority communities. Digital and online resources have started to include languages beyond English, such as the national languages and the official languages of instruction. However, online learning platforms, digital tools and e-learning materials are not yet reaching children from indigenous and ethnic minority language backgrounds. The digital education space has immense potential to be inclusive of learners who speak a different language, learners from ethnolinguistic minority and indigenous groups, and those who live and learn in multilingual context. Against this background, the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group (MLE WG) is launching a call for case studies to showcase in a regional paper on promising practices in digitalization of mother tongue-based multilingual education in the Asia-Pacific region. Selected cases will be featured in this paper. We welcome all relevant cases, especially covering access modalities, devices, digital literacy and digital competencies, learning materials, teaching strategies, teacher training, assessment, monitoring/data and/or family/community engagement. Cases of general use of ICTs in education in the Asia-Pacific will also be considered if there is demonstrated adaptability for use of mother tongues. Deadline: 19 May 2023 (Friday)Submission Form: Please submit any inquiries to with the subject line "Case study for digital MLE”.


9 Myths about Heritage Language Education

Heritage Language Education (HLE) Network 28 Feb 2023

The Heritage Language Education (HLE) Network surveyed partners on the common misconceptions about HLE. The results were synthesized for a total of 9 myths about Heritage Language Education. Read more about the 9 myths and the HLE Network here:


International Guidelines for Professional Practices in Community-Based Heritage Language Schools

Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools 28 Feb 2023

A group of organizations in Canada, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United States have come together to focus on what community-based heritage language (CBHL) schools worldwide have in common and to define universal principles and good practices that will help guide these schools. These International Guidelines were developed in 2021 by representatives of heritage language school communities, organizations, associations, and initiatives. View the resource here:


Multilingual education: An essential strategy for transforming education systems

Brandon Darr 20 Feb 2023

On International Mother Language Day 2023, it is time to reflect on how multilingual education is key to the recovery and transformation of education systems for all learners. The 2023 theme for International Mother Language Day, ‘multilingual education - a necessity to transform education', is especially timely. In September 2022, the United Nations Transforming Education Summit (TES) convened heads of state and government representatives to discuss how to fundamentally and comprehensively transform education systems in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), or the ‘education SDG', which sets out to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all' by 2030. The TES concluded with global initiatives and calls to action to ensure that the SDGs are met. The calls to action include supporting education in crisis situations, addressing the learning crisis, greening education partnerships, improving quality public digital learning, advancing gender equality, and financing education. In his Vision Statement for transforming education, UN Secretary-General António Guterres recognises that children and youth continue to face discrimination based on various grounds, including the neglect of their mother language. When determining innovative approaches in answer to these important calls, educators must integrate multilingual education as a central component of their strategic solutions, lest they continue to marginalize already vulnerable and disadvantaged learners. Notably, while multilingual education considerably helps to address systemic inequities, it also improves the quality of education for all learners. The State of Global Learning Poverty: 2022 Update has reported that COVID-19 school closures and related education disruptions significantly increased ‘learning poverty' from already concerning pre-pandemic figures. This indicator revealed that 70 per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of ten. At the same time, between 37 and 40 per cent of the global population lacks access to education in a language they speak or understand. Research across a significant range of multilingual contexts, such as Cambodia, Cameroon, Peru and Thailand, has shown that learners in mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB MLE) have as good, or even better learning outcomes than their non-MLE peers across various academic subjects, including reading and mathematics. As such, MTB MLE can help build foundational skills, reduce learning poverty and combat the global learning crisis. Fortunately for education practitioners, planners, and policy-makers, multilingual education is also cost-effective compared to other potential innovations. A 2016 report by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity determined mother-tongue/bilingual instruction to be one of the most highly effective practices to increase learning outcomes at some of the lowest financial costs to education systems. The report also found the mother-tongue/bilingual instruction intervention to have the highest impact on teaching quality and learning effects - more than improving teaching methods, providing remedial education or computer-assisted learning, or doubling learning time, among other interventions. To cite but one example, while digital learning can help to expand opportunities for learners, such a tool must be in languages learners know and understand. And in the long term, multilingual education systems spend less money on learners who might otherwise need to repeat a grade or drop out of school entirely, while all learners turn out to be better equipped with the skills they truly need to contribute to the economy, their communities, and greater society. Multilingual education cuts across innovations aiming to build resilient futures amidst the increased uncertainties of the twenty-first century. These resilience- and sustainability-oriented initiatives must consider the role of language, especially mother tongues and indigenous languages, if they are to be truly inclusive, and ultimately truly effective. For example, indigenous languages can help to safeguard traditional cultural knowledges and practices related to biodiversity. Such languages, cultures and knowledges can enrich greening education by providing traditional solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. In regard to refugee and crisis contexts, these learners may face additional barriers to education if they cannot speak the language of their new host community, or are unable to receive and make good use of emergency materials in languages they understand. If multilingual education can clearly contribute to transforming education systems, it is not the only intervention currently needed to provide a truly equitable and inclusive quality education for all learners. Vulnerable learners including those from ethnolinguistic minority backgrounds often face multiple and compounded disadvantages to enrolling and staying in school, such as remoteness, poverty, and teacher attrition, as well as language barriers. Language is a key factor in transforming all societal systems, not only education, for achieving full equity and inclusion for all. The Asia-Pacific region will continue the momentum of this year's International Mother Language Day theme well into late year. In October, the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group, co-chaired by UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF EAPRO), will be hosting the 7th International Conference on Language and Education. The conference will aim to bring together education practitioners, planners and policy-makers to present and discuss multilingual education for transformative education systems and resilient futures. In parallel with this event, the 4th High-Level Policy Forum on MLE will expand on the Bangkok Statement on Language and Inclusion, which provides action items for realizing SDG4 in relation to the language needs of all learners. The article originally appeared on the UNESCO Bangkok website, 20 February 2023, at


Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group Regional Webinar, Series No. 5

Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group Secretariat 29 Sep 2022

Objectives To raise awareness of internationally significant events which can serve as platforms for MLE advocacy To highlight approaches to MLE advocacy at the local, national, and regional levels To catalyse multilateral engagement, understanding and cooperation in approaching MLE advocacy Target Audience The target audience for the webinar consists of regional, national and international level MLE stakeholders (including both policymakers and practitioners) to enhance their awareness of upcoming internationally significant events in planning their advocacy strategies. Working Language English; no additional language accommodations provided. Dates and Format Wed, 23 March 2022 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Bangkok time; GMT+7) Zoom Conferencing Registration Registration is free but required in advance; upon registering, you will receive a unique join URL via email: For more Information Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group Secretariat E-mail: Agenda Wednesday, 23 March 2022 Moderators: Kyungah Kristy Bang, Programme Officer, UNESCO Bangkok Kirk Person, Senior Literacy and Education Consultant, SIL International 11:00 - 11:05 a.m. Welcome and Introduction from the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group Erin Tanner, Education Specialist, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) 11:05 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. Panel Speakers: ‘What is APREMC-II and How can MLE Practitioners Help National Delegations Prepare?' - Margarete Sachs-Israel, Chief of Section for Inclusive Quality Education, UNESCO Bangkok (20 mins) ‘Bringing Non-dominant Languages into Education Systems: Change from Above, from Below, from the Side—or a Combination?' - Kimmo Kosonen, Payap University and SIL International (10 mins) ‘The International Decade of Indigenous Languages' - Linh Anh Moreau, UNESCO Bangkok (15 mins) ‘Indigenous People's Organizations and the MLE Movement: Partnering for IDIL' - Suraporn Suriyamonton, Country Representative, Pestalozzi Children's Foundation, Thailand (20 mins) 12:10 - 12:25 p.m. Discussion and Q&A Discussant: Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor Emeritus of Language and Literacy Education, University of Melbourne 12:25 - 12:30 p.m. Wrap Up 'MLE Advocacy from a Media Advocacy Perspective' - Manoch Chummuangpak, Dhurakij Pundit University, Member State Representative of the IDIL Global Task Force, Thailand Webinar Resources Webinar recording Presentation slides ‘What is APREMC-II and How can MLE Practitioners Help National Delegations Prepare?' ‘Bringing Non-dominant Languages into Education Systems: Change from Above, from Below, from the Side—or a Combination?' ‘The International Decade of Indigenous Languages' ‘Indigenous People's Organizations and the MLE Movement: Partnering for IDIL' 'MLE Advocacy from a Media Advocacy Perspective' Concept note and agenda Speakers' biographies Webinar Q&A See the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group (MLE WG) webpage for more information on the MLE WG and the previous sessions of the regional webinar series. Main photo credit: ©Shutterstock/pradeep_kmpk14

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