International Mother Language Day: ADEA highlights effectiveness of mother tongue instruction and bilingual education

February 21, 2014, International Mother Language Day, was the occasion for ADEA to celebrate the richness of Africa’s linguistic and cultural heritage. It was also an opportunity for ADEA to stress that children learn better in their mother language in the early years.

Research shows that children learn the basic skills – which include reading, writing and arithmetic - better and more quickly in their mother tongue. Children whose primary language is not the language of instruction in school are also more likely to drop out of school or fail in early grades.
Studies conducted by ADEA have also shown that the combination of mother-tongue instruction and bilingual education are important factors for the improvement of learning processes.

These are areas which have been extensively explored by ADEA, given their importance for effective learning and literacy in Africa.
In 2005, in Windhoek, Namibia, ADEA and GTZ (German Cooperation), in partnership with the UNESCO Institute of Education (UIE) organized a regional conference on bilingual education and the use of local languages, within the framework of investigating how to improve the quality of education and learning.

In 2010, ADEA also organized the “African Ministerial Conference on the Integration of African Languages and Cultures into Education" held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 20-22 January 2010.  The Conference produced and adopted a “Policy Guide on the Integration of African Languages and Culture into Education”.
The Policy Guide as well as other publications, studies and Newsletters published by ADEA on the use of African languages in African education systems are available and can be downloaded from the ADEA web site.

Policy Guide on the Integration of African Languages and Cultures into Education Systems. Published by ADEA, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), and the Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy of Burkina Faso with the financial support of the Education Program Development Fund (EPDF) and the BMZ/GTZ, 2010. Also exists in French.

Why and how Africa should invest in African languages and multilingual education, by Ouane Adama and Glanz Christine. Published by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), Germany and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), Tunisia, 2010. ISBN: 978-92-820-1171-3 - 72. Also exists in French and Swahili.

Bilingual Education in Burkina Faso. An Alternative Approach for Quality Basic Education, by ILBOUDO Paul Taryam
Published by ADEA. Case Studies series No 11. ADEA Secretariat. 2010. ISBN-10: 92-9178-098-7 ISBN-13: 978-92-9178-098-3. Also exists in French.