12.12.2013 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Managing linguistic diversity in Nepal’s schools

©UNESCO/Krishna Malla -Females in an adult literacy class in Rupandehi district of Nepal learning in their mother tongue

The promotion of multilingual education is on the agenda of a workshop that the Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development (CERID) of Tribhuvan University organizes on 14 October 2013 at Yala Maya Kendra in Lalitpur, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, with financial support from the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu.

The prime objective of the seminar, which will be attended by officials from the Ministry of Education, university and school teachers, experts in multilingual education and development partners,  is to make the stakeholders aware of the issues and concerns related to mother tongue-based multilingual education and to delineate a strategy to promote multilingual education in Nepal.

Some one hundred languages are spoken in Nepal. The language of instruction in the government system of education is Nepali, the official language. Many private schools provide English medium education. Furthermore, the Interim Constitution suggests that the mother tongue can be used in the early stages of education, but in fact there has been little implementation of this provision at the grassroots level.

The Text Book Production Centre has prepared some basic elementary readers in nine different ethnic languages, but it is hard to ascertain to what extent these primers are in use. Some NGOs have begun experimental classes using the mother tongue in non-formal education contexts. There is a growing awareness of the importance of mother tongue-based education, but it is difficult to implement changes in local contexts.

In Nepal, as in other countries in the Asia and Pacific region, multilingual education programmes established in non-formal education systems help linguistic minority learners to become literate in their own languages and in the national language.

But at the national policy level there is a serious lack of recognition and understanding of the role that multilingual education can play in increasing enrolment, retention and achievement in the formal school system.  At the same time, policy makers and education practitioners are faced with difficult decisions with regard to the language of instruction when technical and political factors are in competition.

Therefore, the seminar aims at increasing the understanding of the true panorama of providing education in learners’ mother tongue as one of the crucial steps towards achieving quality education for all.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Tap Raj Pant

National Programme Officer (Education) 
P.O.Box 14391, Kathmandu
Tel.: + 977 1 5554769, 5554396 ext. 14
Fax: + 977 1 5554450

Kathmandu, 13 December 2013

Press Release UNESCO/KAT 22/2013

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