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Asia Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group (MLE WG)


The Regional Thematic Working Group on EFA – consisting of UN partner agencies, relevant international NGOs and civil society organizations – exists to ensure coordinated support across all sectors towards achievement of “increased access and utilization of quality education, especially for vulnerable groups and people in underserved areas.

Over the past several years, there has been a growing awareness of the difficulties that many ethnolinguistic communities face in gaining access to educational opportunities, as well as increased interest in the potential of multilingual education to address lingering disparities.

In 2004, a group of organizations began meeting as the Bangkok Multilingual Education Working Group with the purpose of “identifying the major needs in nurturing a multilingual education movement throughout Southeast Asia and coordinating human and financial resources to help meet those needs.” The founding members included: UNESCO, UNICEF, SEAMEO, Save the Children, SIL International, Mahidol University, and CARE. 

Given the mandate of the Regional Thematic Working Group on EFA to develop capacity and monitor progress towards EFA goals and strategies at the national, regional and international levels, and the relevance of multilingual education to improving access to education for marginalized ethnolinguistic communities (a significant subset of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups), it is appropriate for the Asia Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group to come under the auspices of the Regional TWG on EFA as a thematic sub-group.

Through integration with the Regional TWG on EFA, it is hoped that the Multilingual Education Working Group will gain new members and momentum towards fostering coordination and resources that support enhanced education opportunities for ethnolinguistic communities, within the broader framework of Education for All.



The goal of the Asia Pacific Multilingual Education Working group (MLE WG)* is to remove barriers of access to quality education for ethnolinguistic communities through coordination of technical and substantive support** to multilingual education initiatives and related policy advocacy throughout the Asia-Pacific region***.



* The special focus of the MLE WG is on those groups that are most vulnerable to language barriers in achieving their education and development goals. While ethnic and linguistic minorities are of particular interest, the emphasis is on marginalized, unreached groups regardless of minority status.

** Substantive support can take various forms and means such as leveraging non-technical resources such as funding, organizational infrastructure, advocacy materials, etc.

*** While the original MLE WG specified a focus on the Southeast Asia region, the terms of reference has an inclusive definition of region for the purpose of broadening participation and impact. 

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