Nearly 500 participants from more than 30 countries recently gathered together on 24–26 September in Bangkok, Thailand at the Inclusion, Mobility, and Multilingual Education Conference (IMMLE 19). The aim was to explore issues of language and development.
Wycliffe is passionate about making progress in these areas because they make real differences in people’s lives. They affect people’s ability to learn both their mother tongue and other languages and, therefore, they affect people’s ability to get to know Jesus through the Bible.
Let us aim for a new day in education... in which inclusive classrooms acknowledge the first language of each child
This occasion provided an opportunity for educators, researchers, policy makers and activists to meet and share new ideas. Conference panels were organised into three thematic tracks: language and inclusion, language and mobility, and multilingual education.
People from many different organisations contributed, including workers from Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International, Wycliffe’s primary partner. SIL International Executive Director Dr Michel Kenmogne highlighted some of the challenges non-dominant language speakers face, and expressed hope for change.
In his address at the opening reception, Dr Kenmogne said, ‘Let us aim for a new day in education which is marked by a new form of cultural and educational hospitality, in which inclusive classrooms acknowledge the first language of each child, maximise the potential for all to succeed, preserve their identity, and contribute to a global community that maintains the richness of its cultural diversity.’
All children have the right to a quality education – and as part of this commitment, children from indigenous ethnic groups should learn in their mother tongue
During a plenary session, Dr Nath Bunroeun, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in Cambodia, spoke passionately about the importance of mother tongue based multilingual education, which is now a national policy in Cambodia: ‘All children have the right to a quality education – and as part of this commitment, children from indigenous ethnic groups should learn in their mother tongue – as a bridge to learning the national language.’
Officials from 16 countries in Asia and the Pacific also met for discussions related to multilingual education programmes and policies in order to reach the education goals of the UNESCO 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Wycliffe is passionate about making progress in these areas because... they affect people’s ability to get to know Jesus
On the final day of the conference, Mr Arthur Albert, Assistant Secretary for the National Department of Education in Micronesia, read out the draft Bangkok statement on Language and Inclusion, the first ever regional recommendation of this kind, which describes plans to ensure all students are learning, including enhancing the quality of multilingual education, diversifying the teacher workforce and strengthening partnerships.
Presentations from the conference will be available here.
Photos by Andy Min.