On Friday, 12th December, Carol Benson, guest lecturer at the Centre for Research on Bilingualism, University of Stockholm, Sweden gave an informal talk to Ledikasyon pu Travayer members on the subject of mother-tongue education. The talk was held at the LPT building in GRNW. It was a fascinating talk, relying on examples from her own personal experience in situations as different as Laos and Mozambique, Uzbekistan and Bolivia, Sierra Leone and the United States.
She put emphasis on the different types of argument in favour of mother-tongue education. She said there was no longer any doubt about the pedagogical arguments: progress in school is now known to be much better when there is use of the mother-tongue as medium. And there are also the socio-political arguments, about peoples' ability to participate in democracy increasing with bilingual education.
Ms Benson also gave a list of the different "foot in the door" tactics that were necessary to progress in the battle for the acceptance of the mother tongue in education. Some, she said, instead of becoming a way forward end up being used to justify going no further. In some countries, she said, there were so-called "pilot projects" that lasted 20 years, ending up postponing the introduction on a large scale of the mother-tongue. During debate, it was felt that whether a foot-in-the-door tactic worked or not depended on the balance of forces: it is necessary to go on pushing to get through the door, rather than let the reactionaries squash your foot in the door-jamb.