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Re-shaping language policy in Vanuatu education: Complexity, challenges and chances

Willans, Fiona and Early, Robert and Tamtam, Helen and Robert, Charley and Thieffry, Christelle and Vandeputte-Tavo, Leslie (2015) Re-shaping language policy in Vanuatu education: Complexity, challenges and chances. UNSPECIFIED.

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    This symposium addresses recent language policy developments in Vanuatu’s education system. Planners in Vanuatu must contend with immense linguistic diversity, comprising around 100 vernacular languages, Bislama (a pidgin/creole that serves as national language and co-official language), and English and French (former colonial languages, co-official languages, and ‘principal languages’ of a dual-medium education system). Language debates have featured in the socio-political landscape since Independence, reflecting pressures towards tradition (the importance of the vernaculars, and recognising Bislama as a unifying force and token of national identity), and also modernity (the rise of Bislama as an urban creole, the growing importance of English, and reactions against the perceived decline in the significance of French). Bislama’s place within formal education has been particularly controversial and, while desires to include the multiplicity of small vernaculars are growing, just asking exactly how this might happen has usually served to stifle discussion. However, numerous initiatives around "rethinking" education in Vanuatu have resulted in significant steps towards "reshaping" this sector. A new education language policy was endorsed in 2012, which mandates the use of the vernaculars (including Bislama) as medium of instruction during formal pre-school and the first two primary years, and which recommends the continued use of these languages to then support the transition to English or French. The implementation of this policy has been incorporated within the remit of the Vanuatu Education Support Programme, which focuses on strengthening the quality of the early stages of education. In this symposium, we bring together multiple perspectives on these developments. We present insights from the Ministry of Education and Training, the Vanuatu Education Support Programme, the Curriculum Development Unit, the international donor community, and two universities from the Pacific region. Drawing on this range of expertise, we offer a window into the realities of such a complex innovation.

    Item Type: Other
    Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
    P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
    P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
    Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Language, Arts and Media
    Depositing User: Fiona Willans
    Date Deposited: 18 May 2016 16:21
    Last Modified: 18 May 2016 16:21

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