Mother tongue-based multilingual education: A new direction for Timor-Leste

Type Working Paper
Title Mother tongue-based multilingual education: A new direction for Timor-Leste
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 295-301
URL Conf 2011/chp_43.pdf
The selection of the medium of instruction is one of the most challenging and contentious decisions
facing education policymakers, since it has such far-reaching effects and implications. Controversy over
the role and status of languages in the East Timorese school curriculum has dominated debates about
educational quality since independence. This chapter opens with an overview of the current challenges
facing education planners in Timor-Leste. We briefly review the language situation and go on to
describe the current educational policy context, identifying some recent legislative and policy initiatives
which have bearing on the use of languages in education. Recently, a new policy approach has been
advocated in the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) policy for Timor-Leste. A
national debate on this policy was launched in February 2011. Whilst we stress that at the time of
writing its recommendations have not been officially endorsed by the government, MTB-MLE pilot
projects will begin in a small number of pre and primary schools in 2012. We explain what is meant by
MTB-MLE and discuss why it presents an exciting opportunity for educational development in TimorLeste.

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