The Rajbanshi MTB-MLE Programme is distinct from other multilingual education programmes in Nepal in the following two ways:
- Literacy is first taught using students' first language (L1) in kindergarten. Nepali (L2) reading comprehension skill development starts from Grade 2 Term 1 onwards, about one year later than the government Nepali medium schools. English (L3) oral and literacy skills starts from Grade 2 Term 2, about 1 and half year later than the government Nepali medium schools.
- The language of instruction (LoI) for other subjects transits gradually from L1 to L2 from kindergarten to Grade 5, with an extensive period when both L1 and L2 are used interchangeably in class to facilitate students' learning.
The use of L1 to teach literacy and the seemingly slow start of Nepali (L2) and English (L3) as compared to other Nepali medium or English medium schools in Nepal does not hamper students' learning. In fact, students' academic performance has shown that starting early grade education with mother tongue and learning literacy beginning with mother tongue has helped the students build a strong foundation in learning, and enabling them to perform consistently above the national passing mark of 40. Below is a summary of the average 2015-2016 (2072BS) year-end written assessment results by grade and subject:
|2015-2016 (2072BS) year-end written assessment results by grade and subject (% average)|
|Grade||Rajbanshi (L1)||Nepali (L2)||English (L3)||Maths||Science||Social Studies|
|1||74.8||88.8 (Oral only)||71.1||84.9 (combined in G1)|
(1)Students started learning the English alphabet, basic English vocabulary through Total Physical Response (TPR) activity, and simple English conversations in Grade 2. Students did not need to take written assessment for English subject until Grade 3.
Reading assessments conducted for Nepali and English across Grade 2 to Grade 5 also show high reading accuracy1 and comprehension skill2 attainment. By the end of Grade 2, students have already attained sufficient literacy skills from Rajbanshi (L1) that enabled them to transfer the reading skill to their Nepali (L2) reading and performed well in the Nepali (L2) reading assessment.
Similarly, by the end of Grade 3, most students were able to decode English reading text relatively well even though their comprehension skill has yet to catch up. The significantly better performance shown by both Grade 4 and 5 students show that given sufficient time, students are able to improve their English reading proficiency.
48 students graduated in March 2016 having completed five or six years of education with the programme. To date, apart from a few students who do not continue their studies due to family reason, all of the rest have successfully enrolled into the nearby government secondary schools. In fact, a few students were recommended to skip a level and be placed in Grade 7 directly. This testifies the students' academic ability to integrate into the national Nepali medium education system successfully.
1Student's reading accuracy was measured based on the percentage of number of words read correctly from the reading text.Reading assessments conducted for Nepali and English across Grade 2 to Grade 5 also show high reading accuracy1 and comprehension skill2 attainment. By the end of Grade 2, students have already attained sufficient literacy skills from Rajbanshi (L1) that enabled them to transfer the reading skill to their Nepali (L2) reading and performed well in the Nepali (L2) reading assessment.
2Student's reading comprehension was measured based on the percentage of number of comprehension questions answered correctly.
Here are some quotes from the local community and students about the programme (the English translation is meaning based):
“हामीले राजवंशी बहुभाषिक विद्यालयमा त राजवंशी भाषामा मात्र पढाइ हुन्छ भनेर भुल बुझेका रहेछौं, हामीले त्यसैले त्यत्ति वास्ता नगरेको सत्य हो। तर यहाँका कक्षा 2-3 का विद्यार्थीहरुले पनि खर्रर नेपाली पढेको देख्दा अचम्म लागेको छ। मातृभाषामा शुरू गरेर नेपाली सिकाउन थाल्नु साह्रै राम्रो कुरो रहेछ।” - गाविस प्रतिनीधि।
I originally thought the [MLE] programme only teaches in Rajbanshi, However, when I saw how fluent the Grade 2-3 students were able to read in Nepali, I was surprised to see that using mother tongue to start learning Nepali is indeed very helpful. ~ Local village development committee representative.
“मेरा नानीहरू अर्को (नेपाली माध्यमका) स्कुलमा पढाएको कत्ति वर्ष पढाएर पनि पटक्कै पढ्न जानेन, तर यो स्कुलमा आएपछि सबै पढ्न सक्छ र स्कुल पनि खुसिसाथ आउँछ। हामीले केही भन्नै पर्दैन।” - अभिभावक।
When my daughter was in another Nepali-medium school, she could not read even after a few years. However, since she came to this school, she is able to read and she likes to go to school now. We did not need to push her to learn at all. ~ Parent.
“शिशु कक्षामा पढ्ने मेरी छोरी एक वर्षमै धेरै परिवर्तन भई। हामीले घरमा गृहकार्य गर्न सम्झाइ रहनुपर्दैन। ऊ आफै ब्याग खोलेर गृहकार्य गर्छे। गृहकार्य सिद्धिएपछि मलाई थप गृहकार्य दिन कर गर्छे। तर के गर्नु हामी पढेलेखेका छैनौँ!” - अभिभावक।
My daughter has changed a lot even after only one year of kindergarten in this programme. We do not need to remind her to do homework. She would do everything on her own and ask me to give more homework after she finished. However, what can we do to help her when we are illiterate ourselves? ~ Parent.
“हामी जान्दछौँ कि हामी फेरि यस्तो खालको राम्रो विद्यालय पाउँनेछैनौँ, जहाँ आफ्नै भाषा सजिलो किसिमले पढ्न पाइयोस्। तरपनि अब त हामी अर्को विद्यालयहरूमा पनि राम्रोसँग पढ्न सक्छौँ किनभने हामीलाई सबै विषयहरू राम्री पढेकाछौँ।” - कक्षा ५ का विद्यार्थीहरू।
I wish I could stay in this school because I could learn easily here. But even if we need to go to another school now for higher grades, we have confidence that we can learn all the subjects well. ~ Grade 5 student
विद्यालय सानै होस्। तर पढाई राम्रो हुनुपर्छ। पढाई राम्रो भएपछि हामी राम्रो हुन्छौँ। हामी राम्रो भयोँ भने देश राम्रो हुन्छ। - कक्षा ५ का विद्यार्थीहरू।
The school is small, but the teaching is good. When the teaching is good, our future will be bright, and this in turn will benefit the country. ~ Grade 5 student.