SEAMEO WORLD Bank Project: Using the Mother Tongue as Bridge Language of Instruction in Southeast Asian Countries: Policy, Strategies and Advocacy

The 41st and 42nd SEAMEO Council Conferences took up the issue of mother tongue. To put this agenda into action, the SEAMEO Secretariat has sought partnership or collaboration with various organizations to organize a number of activities related to the use of mother tongue as bridge language of instruction. One of these is "Using the Mother Tongue as Bridge Language of Instruction in Southeast Asian Countries: Policy, Strategies and Advocacy" with sponsorship from the World Bank.

The main idea is to enhance minority children's capabilities to learn through the use their mother tongue as language of instruction in early education. The children will revert to the main stream language for instruction at a later time.

  1. Aim

This projects aims to keep alive discussion on the complicated language of instruction issue in the SEAMEO member countries. The core participants will be the Ministry of Education officials of SEAMEO member countries who are well versed in language policies and implementation. Their participation will provide the most up-to-date information on language issues in Southeast Asia, and hopefully, this will also preempt other activities such as, replicating some of the good practices presented, encouraging detailed documentation of the experiences and the processes involved in using the mother tongue as MOI, or scaling up some of the projects in their respective countries. The Secretariat will present the outcomes of this project to High Officials in the 30th SEAMEO High Officials Meeting and the Ministers of Education in the 43rd SEAMEO Council Conference for advocacy.

  1. Objective

The project will review and assess the use of mother tongue as language of instruction and assist countries to devise strategies for improving their language policies. The project is intended to add value by sharing international and regional good practices in terms of strategies, policy measures and know how. There are three main tasks in the project:

  1. Development of a compendium of language policies, legislation and selected programmes of the different Ministries of Education (MOE) and key education players in the region;
  2. Organization of a workshop for experts and representatives of the MOE to take stock of language practices and policies, directions and exemplary programs relating to language on instruction for ethnic and linguistic minorities; and
  3. Formulation of policy recommendations and region-wide action plans for advocacy in dissemination of information on mother tongue in the SEAMEO Member Countries

MOE officers will be invited to write on their countries' language policies and either MOE officers or other nominated persons to write on cases of good practices.

A consultative workshop to be attended by MOE officers, SEAMEO officers, international experts and NGOS will be organized. The writers of language policies and mother tongue implementation will present their papers for information and discussion in this meeting. The meeting will also draw ideas from these presentations to develop policy recommendations and region-wide action plan.

There are two expected outputs:

  • Compendium of language policies and case studies in Southeast Asia on the use of mother tongue as bridge language of instruction; and
  • Policy recommendations and region-wide action plan.

Consultative Workshop
Windsor Suites Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
19-21 February 2008


For more information, please contact the SEAMEO Secretariat
Mom Luang Pin Malakul Centenary Building
920 Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2391-0144
Fax: +66 (0) 2381-2587