Linguistic human rights and multilingual education : report from an Indian university

Rao, Giridhar A. (2020) Linguistic human rights and multilingual education : report from an Indian university. Technical Report. Decolonial Subversions.

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This paper will report on the designing and teaching of Masters-level courses on multilingual education and linguistic human rights. These courses are being offered at a private, not-for-profit Indian university which has an explicit social justice agenda. The deliberately diverse student body offers unique opportunities to explore multilingualism in the classroom and in society: a July 2019 class of 46 students had between them 35 languagenames! The essay first sets out the somewhat unusual background of the University. It then gives an overview of some aspects of the University’s diversity. Thereafter, we describe a few of our courses on multilingualism, their objectives, and some pedagogic strategies. The university aims to create reflective practitioners for the social sector – especially in education, development and public policy. There is therefore a discursive coherence between the various courses in the Masters programmes. Students are particularly receptive to arguments about discrimination, exclusion, equity, rights, and policies. However, while class, caste, gender and region are familiar axes of exclusion, there is much less awareness among students of the intersectionality of language as reflecting, constituting, and reproducing privilege, discrimination and exclusion. The courses on multilingual education and linguistic human rights thus build on the strengths that the programmes and the students already have. The courses then seek to go beyond, inviting students to critique existing linguistic inequalities, and devise an innovative curriculum and pedagogy. The essay ends by sketching two initiatives of the University that will help to develop critical perspectives on India’s multilingualism, and design educational and policy interventions which strengthen mother-tongue based multilingualism and contribute to the building of a just, equitable, sustainable and humane society. This paper reviews the experience of teaching these courses, and suggests some possible future directions.

Item Type: Monograph (Technical Report)
Authors: Rao, Giridhar A.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Multilingual education, Linguistic human rights, Social justice, Education, Curriculum, Pedagogy
Subjects: Social sciences > Education
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Education
Full Text Status: Public
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