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Over 220 million children do not have access to education in their own language. These children are less likely to succeed in school and are more likely to fall behind or drop out. Over 75% of the world's out-of-school girls are ethnic, linguistic, or religious minorities.  


Children who learn in their mother tongue do better in school and are less likely to drop out. 

Multilingual Education


Children learn best in a language they understand. They become proficient readers more quickly when learning in the language they speak at home than when using a language that is only used in school. Children also learn subject matter better when they do not have to simultaneously decipher a new language. A strong foundation of reading and learning in the mother tongue even improves acquisition of second language literacy and fluency and contributes to a student's long-term success.

SIL LEAD's Work in Multilingual Education


SIL LEAD uses its expertise in mother tongue-based multilingual education to improve reading and learning. We help to establish a foundation of learning and literacy in a language that students speak at home and gradually build competence in additional languages. Our training and technical assistance helps:

  • communities to create and manage a library of locally created reading materials in their language that are age and grade appropriate
  • education officials to build or adapt curricula to accommodate multiple languages and to develop new pedagogical materials in the mother tongue
  • teachers and teacher trainers to develop contextually appropriate pedagogical approaches for reading instruction



From the Blog...

Taking It Viral

"You have to use the media, the methods, that fit your audience."

The difficulty of providing clear, accessible information about communicable diseases might seem like a problem for white-hatted development workers in foreign countries. But even though it’s primarily an issue for minority language groups, it’s important to remember that medical messaging is a problem that can affect anyone, anywhere…

In Their Own Words...

While we at SIL LEAD are grateful for many opportunities to serve communities around the world, we hold a special place in our hearts for the organizations we are able to support through our Community Based Language Development (CBLD) program. These are often smaller organizations that might otherwise be overlooked in large scale aid and development initiatives.  By supporting the efforts of local citizens who are taking initiative to improve their own communities, SIL LEAD has a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference in a very focused way. One of the first organizations we have partnered with through the CBLD program is Literacy & Development through Partnership (LDP)…

A Bridge to Other Worlds

Imagine for a moment that you’re a small child with a love of books. We may be biased, but we think that makes you pretty much “a small child,” period, because we believe that all children love books! Anyway, imagine we bring you, a small child, into a vast library filled with hundreds or even thousands of brightly colored books.

The colors! The pictures! The beautiful words!

You’ve heard about books. Someone has told you of the worlds these books will open up to you, so you head for the closest shelf and pluck off a promising title with an intriguing cover image of a baby cradling a giant grasshopper. What a mysterious image! …

Redirecting the Spotlight

Dr. Susan Malone does not like to talk about herself. Not, she says, when “there are too many much more important things to talk about, such as the children in non-dominant language communities who are discriminated against in formal education systems.”

The strength of an organization is always its people, and SIL LEAD’s strength comes from the fact that its staff and associates always seem to insist on shining the spotlight away from themselves and onto the people with whom they work. In a world grown obsessed with the ephemera of fame, it is good to be reminded that everyone has a voice worth hearing, and that all too often some voices are silenced—either intentionally, or by failing to listen…

Bloom in Kenya - A Teacher’s Story

Wawerũ Mwangi is a high school teacher who lives and works in Naiyasha, Kenya. He’s a linguist by training and has written numerous high school textbooks, as well as vernacular texts for primary schools and a teacher’s guide in the Kikuyu language, which have been approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

All this would be quite enough to keep anyone busy, but Mr. Mwangi also loves to write stories…