Mother Tongue and Early Childhood Care and Education: Synergies and Challenges

Mother Tongue and Early Childhood Care and Education: Synergies and Challenges

Evidence tells us that learning first in one’s mother tongue (MT) leads to better outcomes in the future – for individuals, cultures, and nations. But MT is used rarely in ECCE programmes and the early grades of primary school so that many children are forced to learn in a language they poorly understand, and in an environment which neglects and even represses their cultural identity and the language which “carries” it. Evidence also tells us that good quality ECCE programmes enhance the well-being of young children. But many governments spend few resources on ECCE and put very little effort into creating a developmentally and linguistically appropriate curriculum and pedagogy for young pre-school children. The challenge is that while the most disadvantaged children benefit the most from ECCE programmes, these children participate in them the least. Thus, for both cultural and educational reasons, and as a child’s right, ECCE and initial literacy should be provided in a child’s MT, and actions can be taken at both macro- and micro-levels to ensure that this is achieved.
 

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Mother tongue and early childhood care and education: synergies and challenges
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2020, 18 p.

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