Making the most of World Refugee Day

It’s World Refugee Day, a vital moment for raising awareness of the challenges refugees face every day around the world. Refugees have existed since notions of empire and state took root: people who have been forcibly displaced from their home, lacking rights, living under the fragile protection of a foreign ruler or government. The global […]

via Making the most of World Refugee Day — World Education Blog

I don’t think we need to take refugees as such a special case -many of our schools lack the inclusivity to welcome many of its potential clients.

We need to rebuild education from the base -attitudes need to change, whether they are towards, girls, children with disabilities, those starting without the national language, refugees etc.

Many children feel excluded whether they are in or out of school. Refugees have multiple barriers to their learning but we should use all of our experience of uses of technology,community learning spaces and accelerated learning to support all excluded children many of which may well be refugees.


Curriculum Development – new Training Tools

Most countries are still trying to grapple with implementing an inclusive education policy, this pack provides tools to  develop a better understanding between the theory and practice of inclusion.

Training Tools for Curriculum Development
International Bureau of Education 

Resource Pack
The IBE series of Training Tools for Curriculum Development: a Resource Pack is designed to support Member States with regard to education and curriculum reforms and development processes. Drawing on international research evidence on ways to promote inclusion and foster greater fairness, it is intended to influence and support inclusive thinking and practices at all levels of an education system.

Specifically, ‘Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education’ intends to share this broader understanding of the theory and practice of inclusive education to support its effective implementation at the school and classroom levels.

It provides comprehensive guidance for national policy makers, curriculum specialists and developers, teachers, teacher educators, school leaders and district level administrators.

Click here to download the resource pack.

Policy Paper: Teachers for All: Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities


Policy Paper: Teachers for All: Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities

By Ingrid Lewis and Sunit Bagree 

Globally we need more well-trained and motivated teachers. Good teachers can help ensure that every child learns to their full potential from an early age and enters adult life well-equipped to be active citizens and support the development of their community and country. Many countries do not have enough teachers, let alone enough teachers who have received sufficiently high quality pre- and in-service training and access to continuing professional development. The lack of well-prepared and motivated teachers impacts on the enrolment, participation and achievement of all children – but can be particularly detrimental to the education of children from marginalised groups, who may need some extra encouragement or assistance to reach their educational potential.


Teachers are often simply not trained or supported to teach children with disabilities, which makes these children among the most marginalised in terms of educational opportunity and attainment. The exclusion of children with disabilities from education and from fair life chances requires urgent and sustained attention. In particular, attention needs to be paid to preparing teachers who are capable of including children with disabilities in the education process.

This paper first provides more detail about the context and scale of the challenge.It then outlines five broad issues that need addressing if we are to prepare, recruit and support enough teachers, with appropriate skills, to educate every child – including those with disabilities.

To download the paper, please click here.


Training module on Inclusive Education from INEE

INEE-Education Cluster EiE Training Module: Inclusive Education

The INEE-Education Cluster Education in Emergencies Training Package includes a module on Inclusive Education. This module is focused around two main learning objectives: (1) to understand the basic principles underpinning inclusive education; and (2) to understand barriers to inclusion in education systems, and how we can identify and begin to address these barriers. This module contains a PowerPoint presentation, facilitator’s guide, handouts and supplementary materials.

This module encourages participants to think about how to apply suggested good practices for inclusive education, such as those outlined in INEE Pocket Guide to Supporting Learners with Disabilities, and the INEE Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education, and the many key actions from theINEE Minimum Standards that support inclusion.

Directly access the Inclusive Education training module here, or access the full training package here.

International Mother Language Day [UNESCO] – 21st February 2012

International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 .

On 16 May 2009 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

From the UN website

How to participate | Possible action fields:

Projects on languages and multilingualism take many forms – building capacity, research and analysis, raising awareness, supporting projects, developing networks, disseminating information – and have diverse outreach (local, regional or global). These activities are often interdisciplinary, but they can also address particular aspects of language issues, including:

  • Educational initiatives promoting inclusion and quality learning by supporting bi-and multi-lingual education, especially the use of the mother-tongue, at all levels and in formal and non-formal settings; including special attention to teacher training, literacy provision and health education.
  • Projects in the field of science aimed at enhancing communication and collaboration between scientific researchers and institutions across linguistic divides; translating and disseminating scientific materials to communities in order to overcome language barriers; recognizing the central role of vernacular languages in indigenous ways of knowing.
  • Social and human sciences projects focusing on languages and human and cultural rights, migrations and urbanization and other social issues (e.g. exclusion and poverty).
  • Culture-centered projects on cultural diversity, dialogue and exchange, protecting cultural heritage, safeguarding endangered languages (i.e. through translations and publications for instance).
  • Communication and information initiatives that concentrate on building knowledge societies in which everyone can participate and benefit; promoting universal access to information and wider access to ICTs by ensuring the use of a greater number of languages; promoting cultural and linguistic diversity in the media and international information networks.


Below are some notes from the INEE website:

As the  theme this year is “Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education,” it highlighs the importance of mother tongue as part of the right to education. Below is  a message from the Mother-Tongue Based and Multilingual Education Network:


Children from 0 to 5 years of age need a strong foundation in their home language and culture to become good students and productive adults. Yet in conflict environments, preschool and school age children are often forced to learn in an unknown language in culturally different schools. Research results reveal that when children are unable to understand the language of instruction, they do not learn well. They usually withdraw and are unable to cope with home and school environments.


There are several advantages to teaching children in their mother tongue. Learning in a familiar language helps them to deal with their new reality, learn better and more rapidly, and benefit from cultural continuity with their former home. Once they are able to read and write in their first language and have learned developmentally appropriate concepts, they will be ready to learn in another language.


Many nations now accept that early childhood services and the early primary school grades should be provided in the mother tongue. They know that research has shown that teaching in the home language is more effective than teaching in a foreign language in achieving positive learning outcomes and developing children’s strong cultural identity and sense of self worth. It is also more cost effective and cost efficient, and prepares children for success in multilingual education (MLE). In addition, mother tongue instruction and services are internationally acknowledged in Articles 2, 17, 20 and 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Some humanitarian assistance workers believe that it is hard to develop mother tongue-based (MTB) materials and activities because they lack the requisite skills or it is cost prohibitive. Yet effective methods for developing MTB learning materials exist. Should aid workers lack those skills, specialists are available to help them, and mother tongue speakers can assist teachers and help to bridge language barriers. Moreover, providing materials in a language that children understand will help them learn, thereby increasing success rates and cost-effectiveness.


The MTB-MLE Network, located in Washington, DC but with a global membership, has developed a website to provide guidance and resources that can help educators and others, including those working in emergency and crises situations, to develop MTB-MLE programs, materials and services ( A short list of related resources pulled from the MTB-MLE “e-library” and INEE Toolkit can be found at the end of this message.


While providing children with a linguistically and culturally appropriate education in a conflict or post-conflict situation is vital, efforts also should be made to collaborate with ministries of education to identify how MTB-MLE services can be integrated sustainably into national educational and health policies and service systems. Ultimately, ensuring that children and their families have access to education, health and other vital services in their home languages is key to ensuring a successful future.


Some background documents:

Legal Instruments

Building capacity – Cluster based training in Vietnam

PEDC School Based Training Manual

Well , having finished the manual on school based training, we immediately thought perhaps it is better if there were opportunities for teachers to work with teachers in other schools close-by. It is not new, but we have now embarked on  cluster based training.

The work in PEDC covers 40 provinces and 126 districts, involving more than 4,000 main schools with their 14,000 satellite sites, aiming to reach the most ‘unreachable’, but luckily not ‘unteachable’!

Many students in the more isolated areas are  ethnic minority students (there 53 ethnic minorities in Vietnam), some of whom find themselves being taught in a language of which they only know a few words. Such is the challenge for teachers and teacher trainers.

What should a cluster look like? How many schools?

Its a bit like forming groups in training sessions – about 4 seems just right, 2 is too small and 6 can be too big, but of course it all depends on geography and communications. In some of our more mountainous provinces distances can be quite far between satellite sites, let alone main schools.

Here are some criteria we are considering using for identifying the  ‘lead’ school in a cluster

  1. Main school should be centrally located for easy access to the other three main schools.
  2. Head teacher should be trained (under 50?) and with proven experience of leading professional development activities.
  3. Low number of students repeating grade 1 in 2009.
  4. Have at least one key teacher who has trained teachers at district level.
  5. School has potential as resource  base for the  school cluster (could be linked to Inclusive Education resource teachers).
  6. Has proven effective School Development planning process and implemented plan.

Not wanting to be ageist, but the lead school head teacher will be an investment for the future and needs to have some more years to serve.

Leadership of the cluster could of course be rotated depending on the overall competence of the school managers, but again geography may necessitate for one central school to maintain coordinating responsibility. Facilities, such as a large meeting room, may only be found in the lower secondary school , so the lead school may be chosen with that in mind, as well as the presence of electricity.

What do the cluster schools do?

The obvious starting point is monthly professional development activities where follow up discussions and sharing of experiences can occur following a training workshop.  Workshop  (1)   can be a school or cluster based activity (of about two days not to disrupt the school week too much )

workshop cycle

The trials in the classroom can be part of an action research cycle and can include ‘lesson study‘ or lesson observation activities. The results of these activities are brought together once again , as a cluster , in workshop ( 2 ) which consists of feeding back and reflecting as well as gaining new knowledge and skills, and the cycle continues.

Trainers, managers and teachers are encouraged to keep a ‘professional diary’ which provides notes for reflection and action .

The note book can be quite simple with three columns  .


Reflection and Discussion Action points

At the start of workshop (2) teachers can bring their notebooks to input some  ideas for approaches that have worked well and to raise issues that other teachers can help explore through collaborative problem solving – such as the use of force field analysis:

In Colombia, in Escuela Nueva microcentres, teachers meet together to adapt the learning guides so that learning guides fit the local context.

Escuela Nueva teachers in their microcentre (cluster based resource centre)

Advocacy Kit for Promoting Multilingual Education – Including the Excluded

Having worked in Vietnam for the last 4 years I realise the importance of providing governments enough hard information and research findings to base education policy which will first of all realise EFA and Millenium Development Goals but also provide meaningful learning experiences for all children.

From UNESCO as reported in the INEE newsletter:

In some countries in Asia, bi/multilingual education programmes, through non-formal education, are helping to prepare ethnic/linguistic minority learners for literacy in both mother tongue and national languages. However, there is a serious lack of recognition and understanding of the role that bi/multilingual education can play in increasing enrolment, retention and achievement in the formal school system. This kit advocates making education systems more responsive to cultural diversity. It provides important insights into the value of mother tongue-based multilingual education, which respects the rights of children and learners and encourages readers to think about the importance of language issues and to investigate them further. It builds on research findings and experiences gained over many years by many organizations and individuals working on mother tongue-based multilingual education.

This kit contains three main booklets. Each booklet has a designated audience: 1) policy makers, 2) education programme planners and practitioners and 3) community members.

This kit can be used in many different ways. For those who are already involved in MLE programmes, you might use these ideas to help you to promote mother tongue instruction and strengthen your programme.   Those who are not familiar with multilingual education but want to improve educational access for minority language students might use these booklets to identify specific points that they can investigate and discuss in their own contexts.

To access the complete toolkit click here.

And in the same vein:

On February 19th, the United Nations launched UN Language Days, a new initiative which seeks to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the Organization.

UN duty stations around the world will celebrate six new observances dedicated to a UN official language: French (20 March), English (23 April), Russian (6 June), Spanish (12 October), Arabic (18 December) and Chinese (to be determined).

The new initiative – which seeks to increase awareness and respect for the history, culture and achievements of each of the six working languages among the UN community – is part of this year’s observance of International Mother Language Day, observed annually on 21 February.

The observance of the Day will also feature a special screening of the Danish documentary In Languages We Live – Voices of the World at UN Headquarters in New York today. The film explores the world’s linguistic diversity, especially in light of the fact that half of the world’s approximately 6,500 languages will disappear by the end of the century – currently, at least one language is disappearing every 14 days.

In addition, a two-day symposium on translation and cultural mediation will open on 22 February at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

This year, UNESCO is celebrating Mother Language Day as part of the 2010 International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures (2010), the agency’s Director-General Irina Bokova noted in her message for the Day.

For more information visit: