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Language Policy in Education

Many Pacific Island countries have strong local language policies in education. Some state that local language only will be used in the first 3 years of education. This may limit the use of XOs to these classes until they can be modified for the local language. It is possible to change the XOs to operate in the local language and a process has been established by OLPC. For details, see

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Localization

Issues highlighted by Tokelau

In planning for their OLPC project, the Tokelaun Ministry of Education offerred the following guidelines

We have identified a major challenge and in light of our issues around language shift, language loss, etc, and the recently redeveloped language policies (following re-thinking Pacific education initiatives and PRIDE assisted subproject.

Tokelau notes concerns around

1) the flooding of schools with English through the OLPC – should wholesale use is made without the relevant local language content and development; and

2) that OLPC becomes just another tool while the pedagogy of narrow representations of content and teacher centredness remains unchanged.

These challenges are not unsolvable.


Following our participation in the workshop and in preparation for our OLPC pilot, we are committed to some very specific strategies to maximise the use of OLPC for learning and learning through Tokelau language. These we intend to place on the server for access by students and teachers

(1) OLPC is used according to the language policy distribution of time and languages, and in the early years where it is Tokelau immersion – OLPC is not used (unless of course the content is available in Tokelau language)

(2) Develop curriculum content in Tokelau language consistent with our bilingual policy on how the two languages are used for instruction. We envisage this content will be in the form of teaching units of work, student resources, teachers’ guides

(3) Identify existing relevant student and teacher resources that can be placed on the server or accessed through the internet – many of the literacy materials for example in Tokelau language, we’d like to explore how they can be made available digitally as well

(4) Identify, collect, record, and make available on the server Tokelau language and culture material – this includes our songs, stories (some of which we have on cds at the moment), other materials or reference materials already in hard copy – how these can be available digitally eg our language dictionaries

(5) Adapt, translate some of the activities in Tokelau language


The implications of these 5 (there are others which are around information literacy development that includes library refurbishment, librarian training and resource procurement) are huge in terms of:

1. the Departments commitment of budget – which is part of our next 6 year plan.

2. Capacity building – training of translators, writers, illustrators, teachers, school leadership – involves much needed input from community (costs of these in terms of transport between atolls, opportunity costs), having people available

3. School level cultural changes – in terms of a focus on learning, collaboration in teaching, planning, assessment

4. Partnerships with overseas communities of Tokelau speakers where there are resources available

5. Partnerships with organizations that hold Tokelau language material

6. Tokelau language development and issues around standardization of forms, word creation, etc. We hav.e a parallel strategy regarding this

7. Putting in place very specific M&E system from the outset


We have seen how computer technology has been made use of in the development and enrichment of Maori. We see OLPC as offering opportunities to strengthen our language providing the content is made available; as well offsetting the challenges of remote islands, making available resources that are difficult to access in hard copies etc. It is a tool we intend to use to influence the quality of teaching and learning .


Anyway – we are excited by the possibilities and are embarking on some major preparatory work and will keep you all posted.


Together however, in the region – we can learn on the hows, the do-ables and the avoidable – all you pilots for example, tell us what you are doing


Pootle Projects


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Speak / Text to speech projects

OLPC Oceania is working with Michael Saunders, a British teacher living in Canada, who spent two years in the Solomon Islands in the late 1990s. Michael has worked with his technology students and a local Mohawk feeder school, and produced a Mohawk voice for Espeak, and implemented this on the XO. Instructions and language files can be downloaded below. The intention is now to develop espeak voices for the languages above. Michael found that the whole process of developing a new language for Speak can be carried out on the XO itself.

Temporary work-arounds for the Speak Activity with Pacific languages

We have discovered that the following Speak settings can be used for some Pacific languages

  • Swahili gives an excellent pronunciation of Solomon Islands Pijin, and probably Tok Pisin. It also seems to work well for some native languages, at least far better than the default English. (My family have tried the Swahili setting for their own Rennell-Bellona language, a Polynesian language from southern Solomon Islands, and it works reasonably well - David Leeming)
  • In Nauru, the German setting works better than English at pronouncing the written language.
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