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SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) International

SIL International is involved in a number of activities to promote and support basic education and literacy, especially in language minority communities. These activities, which fall into four main categories, contribute to the objectives of the UNLD, and are continuing and expanding throughout Asia.

First, SIL International conducts training workshops at local, provincial, national and international levels. Training focuses on the following areas:

  • Conducting preliminary research, which is necessary for planning community-centred programmes
  • Developing writing systems for previously unwritten languages
  • Developing graded reading materials
  • Developing curriculum and instructional materials
  • Programme evaluation

Second, SIL experts serve as consultants for minority language communities, governments, multilateral agencies and NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, they work with language minority communities in developing orthographies in their languages, as well as in producing reading and instructional materials for their minority education programmes. More specifically, SIL International is collaborating with the Asian Development Bank and the Philippines Government in conducting a study on the feasibility of expanding the Government’s “Regional Lingua Franca” programme to cover various minority languages in the country. With the support of the World Bank and the Government of Viet Nam, SIL specialists are assessing the progress of the Government’s primary education project among the J’rai people of the Central Highlands. A similar project in Cambodia involves assessment of a non-formal bilingual education programme for speakers of four minority languages in Ratanakiri Province. SIL experts are also working with UNICEF in Lao PDR and Viet Nam to clarify policy issues related to language in education, while in Bangladesh, SIL International has joined a leading NGO-BRAC-in planning its “Education for Indigenous Children” programme as part of a nationwide NFE initiative.


The third area of SIL International activity is the publishing and dissemination of information. Publications include resource materials and articles in academic journals on innovations in language development and multilingual education.


The fourth major activity is also effective for disseminating information: holding conferences, symposia and workshops. In November 2003, SIL International, UNESCO and Mahidol University (Bangkok, Thailand) organized the “Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization and Multilingual Education in Asia.” Its purpose was to bring together policy makers, academics and practitioners from minority language communities to learn about current practices and to explore possible cooperative future efforts. In May 2004, SIL International joined with the Ministry of Education and Sports (Nepal) to hold a symposium on community-based inclusive education for language groups in Nepal.


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