Uganda's Multilingual Education Network

Promoting the mother tongue as a bridge in education

Join Our Email List

Would you like to receive regular correspondence from the Uganda MLE Network? Being on our email list means you will receive notification of meetings and other timely announcements. You can join our email list by contacting Craig Esbeck at or leaving a comment on our blog with your email contact. Thanks!

The Next MLEN Meeting

The next MLEN meeting will be held in February 2011. Save the Children in Uganda has agreed to host the meeting and Stella Candiru will make a presentation on STCiU’s literacy efforts in Northern Uganda. We also hope to have someone from Kyambogo University, NCDC or the MoES to report on the progress of the revised local language curriculum for Primary Teacher Colleges. Dr. Okaka Dokotum may have a report on an international MLEN conference he attended in Bangkok, Thailand.

As usual, the meeting will begin promptly at 9 am and finish latest 1 pm. More information about our next meeting will be sent out in January. If you have anything you want to add to the agenda of that meeting, please contact Craig Esbeck via this blog or by email at

New Blog Administrator

The Uganda Multi-Lingual Education Network said farewell to Doug Wicks of SIL in July 2010. Doug and his contributions to Uganda’s languages will be missed by everyone connected with the MLEN. Among many other things, Doug established and managed this blog for the MLEN.

Craig Esbeck, the Program Director of Mango Tree’s Lango Literacy Project is taking over administration of the blog as of November 2010. He has big shoes to fill, but looks forward to this opportunity to help move the multi-lingual education agenda forward in Uganda.

News & Notes for May 2010

Here are just a few notes for those interested in widening their scope of language and education issues:
  • FENU (Forum for Education NGOs in Uganda) are in the throes of a Global Campaign for Education in Uganda.
  • If you are seeking funding opportunities for your language-related project, then check out this website of the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity. It gives an overview of potential donors and includes some general advice on applying for grants.
  • International Symposium arising from the ESRC/DfID funded research collaboration between the University of Bristol and the State University of Zanzibar. This Symposium aims to share research findings and discuss current issues and policies related to teaching, learning and assessing through the medium of a second or foreign language across the globe.
  • REN Africa focused on our MLE Network in their April issue.

Boosting reading in Africa?

“University of Sussex researchers have linked up with research teams in six African countries to study how primary-school teachers can be helped to teach better reading and mathematics skills.

Dr Jo Westbrook, Dr Kwame Akyeampong and Dr John Pryor from the Centre for International Education in the School of Education and Social Work are leading the ‘Teacher Preparation in Africa’ project alongside Research Fellow Dr Kattie Lussier.” Click here for the rest of the article…

Uganda celebrates ‘Mother Tongue Day’ Saturday, Feb. 20th

This day has been designated by UNESCO as Mother Tongue Day and is observed worldwide. This is the third time the Institute of Languages is celebrating this day.

Theme: Mother Tongue to Foster Unity in Diversity

Activities of the day will four papers on mother tongues development, testimonies of the impact of using the mother tongue in churches and schools, as well as the recitation of mother tongue poems and proverbs, reading of essays, singing and dancing.

Date: 20th February 2010

Venue: University Main Hall

Orthography focus Forum Feb. 12th

Our upcoming MLE Network Forum will be Friday, Feb. 12th, from 9am – 12 noon, at the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) near Kyambogo University.


  • Mother Tongue Day Celebration, Feb. 20th (Makerere University)
  • CASAS efforts for ‘Standardized Orthographies’ in Uganda
  • Should every Uganda language have a functioning orthography?
  • Mango Tree’s Langi language literacy project (update)

Annette Islei to present in London on Uganda MLE

Our own Annette Islei and Moses Muhumuza (Mountains of the Moon University, Uganda) will be presenting as session titled ‘Introducing multilingual education in Uganda:
motivations and limitations’ later this month in London at a multilingual education conference.

Plurilingual and Pluricultural Education: Focus on Languages of the Wider World
19th – 20th February 2010
Brunei Lecture Theatre, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Click here for more information.

Multilingualism and Education Conference, July 22-23, 2010

Multilingualism and Education: Global Practices, Challenges and the Way Forward.

Date: July 22 – 23, 2010
Venue: Kenyatta University Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

The conference is intended to bring together researchers, professionals, classroom practitioners, policy makers and language specialists interested in issues that relate to multilingualism, education and linguistic diversity as global phenomena. Papers at the conference are expected to range from presentation of research findings to analysis of practice.

Conference co-hosted by Kenyatta University and the University of Pennsylvania.


  • Language policies and language choice in a multilingual education context.
  • Linguistic challenges in a multilingual set-up.
  • Benefits of mother-tongue education in early childhood.
  • Teaching methodologies in multilingual education.
  • Multilingualism in education in Africa: Reality on the ground.
  • Multilingual education and IT/computing.
  • Models for multi-literacy, multilingual, multimodal practices.
  • Benefits of multilingualism in education
  • Socio-cultural issues, multilingualism and special language needs/ disorders.

Principal Speakers:

Registration Fee:
Participants from Africa: Kshs. 4,000
Rest of the World: US$150

Contact person at Kenyatta University:
Martin C. Njoroge, PhD
Department of English & Linguistics
Kenyatta University
P.O. Box 43844-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. 254208710901 ext 57338

Language and Education: the missing link

How the language used in schools threatens the achievement of Education For All

Save the Children’s Helen Pinnock, with research by Gowri Vijayakumar, along with CfBT Education Trust, has produced a report arguing for the critical role of language in education. The entire .pdf report is here.

From the Executive Summary: “A range of experts argue that how language is used in schools for delivering the curriculum is an important factor in whether or not children succeed in education. In recent years much greater and clearer evidence on school language role in education has emerged, from a larger range of contexts.

“This report is intended for senior Ministry of Education officials and national leaders concerned with education in linguistically diverse countries, as well as donor agencies supporting basic and post-basic education in low and middle income countries.”

Here is the conclusion…
It is possible to deliver education in ways which make it easier for children to learn, which make sure that children are able to gain good second language skills, and which maintain
and develop their first language. There is an opportunity for national governments and aid partners in key countries to collaborate much more strategically, in order progressively to
expand mother tongue based multilingual education to large scale education system coverage. This would require placing language at the centre of international endeavours to
improve the reach and quality of education for the most affected countries.

When planned and resourced well, mother tongue based bilingual or multilingual education can have substantial positive impact on education access and quality. The evidence is clear that failing to start this process is taking a severe toll on educational access and delivery of outcomes in many countries. International collaboration is urgently required to support these processes. Language is not an issue limited to a few communities, a few groups, or a few countries. It affects every aspect and outcome of education systems worldwide. For millions of children, mother tongue based education represents one of the biggest gateways to achieving quality education and the opportunity of a better life. When planned and resourced well, mother tongue based bilingual or multilingual education can have substantial positive impact on education access and quality.”