Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE)

What is the BBCD MTB-MLE programme?

The BBCD MTB-MLE programme is an initiative that utilises the capacity development approach to support a broad base of non-state systems and organisations on quality teaching and learning in multilingual contexts. The full BBCD MTB-MLE programme spans 4 years and is composed of connected technical workshops that cover aspects of material development, teacher training, curriculum development, advocacy and monitoring and evaluation. Participants from eight ethnic education organisations are trained in the knowledge and skills needed to design and implement effective MTB-MLE models within schools.


MEC supports MTB-MLE as it not only strengthens access to learning and equitable education, but also because it supports intercultural understanding and inclusivity in education. Across the multiple studies MEC has conducted over the past 5 years, there is an overwhelming support and desire for MTB-MLE across ethnic communities in Myanmar. MTB-MLE utilises students’ best languages as a pathway to access their learning and develop their cognitive skills across multiple languages. Through this educational and linguistic scaffolding approach, MTB-MLE strengthens the overall equity across a school system as it links with pedagogies in peace education, sustainable development education, gender equity, and other human rights education practices.

What are the goals of the BBCD MTB-MLE programme?

The goals of the BBCD MTB-MLE programme are to;

  • Improve learning for all Myanmar children through the use of the mother tongue (MT) as the language of instruction in scho
  • Improve school retention rates through the use of the MT in school.
  • Improve early literacy rates through the use of the MT.
  • Strengthen teaching and learning of Burmese and English languages as second language subjects through second language methodologies, and through linking the MT in learning the second language.
  • Develop the capacity of Ethnic Basic Education Providers (EBEPs) to create high quality instructional materials and graded readers in ethnic languages each year.
  • Strengthen EBEPs teacher training programmes and teachers’ continuous professional development (CPD) in MTB MLE

Who are the BBCD partners?

The BBCD programme supports a diverse range of EBEPs: the Karen Education and Culture Department (KECD),  Mon National Education Committee (MNEC), Centre for Rural Education and Development (CRED), Kayan New Generation Youth (KNGY), Karenni Education and Development Network (KnEDN), Kachin Independence Organzation’s Education Department (KIO-ED or KED), SaJaNa Church Based-Education (SJN-CBE), and Ningshawng Institute (NSI), who respectively support education in ethnic languages.

Who are the technical training team?

MEC partners with the Language and Social Development Organisation (LSDO) a local NGO that hosts a team of 13 people including international technical consultants, national linguists and language and education experts to deliver the programme.  In addition to delivering workshops, the training team provides intense mentoring support to the trainees in order to build their capacity and support their organisations to implement MTB MLE.

Where are we now?

A total of 8 technical workshops have been completed and over 1,600 mother-tongue (L1) teaching learning resources – Story books, Pictures, Games, Songs, Poems, Curriculum framework, Teacher’s guides and Training manuals – have been developed in Tai Yai (Shan), S’gaw Karen, Kayan, Kayah, Mon and Jinghpaw (Kachin) languages for primary level. Most resources have not been distributed at the school level yet as they are still in the process of editing, testing and revision. However, some finalised story books and trainings are utilised for the Home Based Learning activities being delivering in response to COVID 19.

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