Sunday, 26 August 2012

Cham mother language teaching program in Ninh Thuan province, Vietnam: implementation and prospect

PhD candidate Can Quang

Conclusions and Recommendations

Data analysis in the research addressed five research questions. The outcomes will be synthesized and presented in this chapter. Under various views and perspectives of Cham stakeholders, bilingual education researchers, and practitioners, a picture of the Cham MLTP in Ninh Thuan Vietnam will be revealed with its successes and limitations. To improve the implementation of the program, I will provide some recommendations, which may be useful for individuals involved in managing and developing the Cham MLTP:
Brief Summary of Findings Related to Research Questions
Question 1/. The content of the MLTP classes made use of Cham AT for its writing system and incorporated many aspects of Cham culture. MLTP classes were independent from the other subjects, each of which was taught in Vietnamese.
Question 2/. The quality of MLTP is maintained by the commitment of teachers and administrators together with the constant concern and support of the Cham community. The MLTP success is revealed in the textbook compilation, teacher training, and the very high student attendance. Other factors in quality maintenance include the consistent language policy and funding support from the government.
Question 3/. The transfer of linguistic skills, concepts, knowledge, literacy, and academic skills (study strategies, steps) was evident across languages provided that the language proficiency in both Cham and Vietnamese was maintained at an appropriate level. MLTP acted as a successful mechanism to support MLTP students in this transfer during their elementary schooling.
Question 4/. Because of the positive impact of MLTP and Cham students’ growing language pride, the Cham language in Ninh Thuan, which some theories predicted was supposed to be replaced by Vietnamese, is now broadly used in families, communities, and some socio-cultural domains as shown in some typical examples of Cham language maintenance.
Question 5/. The perception of stakeholders is that standardization of AT orthography is necessary and relevant because it plays a crucial role in the success of MLTP and makes Cham literal communication easier and more effective. The standardized AT was chosen during the laboratory stage of MLTP by stakeholders and community. This choice was based on the Cham stakeholders’ aspiration and traditional AT used by Cham ancestors. The ease of use and uniformity has led to more and more people interact literally and produce literature in Cham standardized AT, which in turn will make it available for Cham readers. This is a crucial contribution to Cham language maintenance.
Achievements of Goals Related to MLTP
            The MLTP program in Ninh Thuan province is considered a successful program by all stakeholders and implementers but still with room for improvement. It has helped the Cham students to maintain their heritage language and to better perform academically in mainstream education. The main factors related to the achievement of expected goals of the Cham MLTP are shown below:
Achievements of the appropriate language policy. The Cham MLTP was established and implemented because the government wished to promote minority language and culture. There were some typical legal documents to orient Cham MLTP. The decisive role of Chapter I Article 5 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1946, 1959, of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1980, 1992 on teaching minority language in elementary schools is consistent to promote minority languages. Decision 153-CP, 1969 focused on development of socio-economy and education in ethnic, remote and mountainous areas. Decree No. 23/CT-TW, 1977 gave guideline on ethnic issue management in the current situation. Decision 53-CP, in 1980 provided instruction on promoting writing systems of ethnic minority groups. Circular 01, in 1997 was very important because of its stipulations for teaching and learning minority languages in schools. Instruction 38/CT-TTg in 2004 broadened the way for promoting the teaching and training minority languages to cadres and civil servants working in minority regions. Decision 29/QD-BGDDT in 2006; and Decree 82/TT-BGDDT in 2010 raised the minority schooling more professional especially by promoting bilingual education.
The policy clarified the foci of government on the Cham students’ promotion of the Cham language maintenance and improvement of academic performance. Those are the Cham communities’ standing aspirations therefore the communities are very happy with the MLTP project and policy. They continue to support the program during MLTP development, to alleviate its weaknesses, recognize and praise its achievement. Generally, the Cham agreed that the Cham MLTP reached specific success in its goals.
However, because the program is limited to elementary school years and inadequate assignment of teacher to the program, it has failed to fulfill the goals of bi-literacy and transition. When Cham students move into the secondary grades they are no longer supported in Cham language. Cham students who reached literacy during 5 years of elementary schooling are now confronted with the risk of becoming illiterate again in Cham because of the interruption of MLTP at grade 6. Moreover, as teachers and specialists reported the absence of MLTP classes at secondary level may have caused Cham minority students to suffer cognitive difficulties, which lead to lower performance in academic proficiency.
Engaged and purposeful management of the MLTP implementation. The success of MLTP was largely due to responsible authorities who assigned CTCC members. These members then provided the creative and unique management that led to the the MLTP program implementation. The CTCC, which directed the laboratory MLTP program in adopting the appropriate writing system, wrote better textbooks, and chose methodology and curriculum from 1978 to 1990, bore responsibility for permanent tasks: (1) to study the Cham language, in order to compile textbooks and create extra reading books; (2) to direct, supervise, and examine the teaching and learning; and (3) to train the Cham teachers and enhance the quality of teaching of the Cham language. The most effective factors were annual reports of the quality of teaching and learning, and the rewards given to students and teachers for current achievement and development orientation. These factors provided motivation to students and teachers, which annually encouraged the MLTP to move ahead with more and more quality.
Efficacy of teachers training. With three kinds of training courses under the management of CTCC, more than one hundred Cham teachers could be provided every year. They were the Cham teacher courses in Ninh Thuan teacher training college, the basis Cham language courses, and the advanced Cham language course. About ten days before a new school year started, the Cham continuing adjustment courses were held annually to (1) provide guidelines and solutions for the learning and teaching issues of the year; (2) inform the result and achievement, and; (3) reward outstanding teachers and students. During the laboratory stage of MLTP, almost one teacher taught one Cham class. With these three types of training course, more than enough Cham teachers were available to cover all Cham classes even if the program were to extend into secondary and high schools. In comparison with other MLTPs, the Cham program was outstanding in teacher training (Lo, 2008b). The Cham teacher training was interrupted in 2004 for two reasons. First, the number of Cham teacher graduates had exceeded the need of the MLTP But second, the decision to have only 50 teachers teaching in the program led to a decline in interest in becoming a teacher in the Cham MLTP. From 2004 to 2012, there was only one two-week teacher-training course in Qui Nhon University in Qui Nhon City, which attracted 53 Cham teachers in June 2007.
This course was seen as a n opportunity to travel and was regarded as less practical and serviceable as those teacher training courses previously held in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces. The three types of courses mentioned above were considered by teachers and specialists interviewed as crucial factors to contribute to the success of the Cham MLTP.
Textbooks and reference books. In order to manage the program effectively, the local government established the Cham Textbooks Compiling Committee (CTCC) under the auspices of the Education and Training department of Ninh Thuan province in May 1978. Textbooks were written at first time in 1978 for two laboratory classes. They were updated annually and first published in 1985 from grade 1 to 5. For the better textbooks and curriculum, the textbooks were updated and published steadily; there were student book, teacher book and workbook for each grade level. So far there had been 4 editions of Cham language books for 5 grades of elementary schools, the first edition in 1985, the second edition in 1990, the third edition in 2000, and the fourth edition in 2009. They were relevant and reasonable to students’ age and perceptive abilities. Though there were some defects in the textbooks that were identified, they would be fixed and adjusted in the next edition. Textbooks of the Cham MLTP were considered as the important guideline for Cham qualified teachers to approach the highest performance.
Moreover, many kinds of the Cham books and language materials were published to facilitate the Cham language teaching in school. From 1987 to 2010 more than 100 books, were published with more than eighty thousands copies, including textbooks, reading books, picture books and reference books (Quang, 2010). Some effective tools that contributed to the cognitive facilitation in Cham teaching and learning was the use of textbooks and dictionaries. The Cham dictionaries were available and are very helpful for Cham learners to decoding linguistic issues, such as, the Dictionaire Cam – Française written by Aymonier and Cabaton in 1906; Từ điển Cham-Viet (908 pages comprising 10,000 words), and Từ điển Viet-Cham (490 pages comprising 11,000 words) written by Bui Khanh The, Phu Tram Inrasara and Quang Can in 1995; the Viet-Cham dictionary for schools, written by Inrasara and Phan Xuan Thanh in 2004.
General evaluation of stakeholders and implementers. The Cham community really cared for and advocated the government policy of putting the Cham language in schooling known as the Cham MLTP. During more than 30 years of its existence and development, the Cham in Ninh Thuan province always supported the program physically and mentally. The continuity and stability of its achievement during more than 30 years generally confirmed the appropriateness of the MLTP program in schools in terms of governmental language policy and implementation. The revival of Cham language together with promotion of Cham students’ schooling achievement was implemented effectively, stably, and extendedly. The purposes of the program were satisfied as conclusions in the reports of five years, ten years of the laboratory stage, twenty years, and thirty years anniversary of CTCC foundation, “The Cham schooling intervention in elementary education had no negative effect on the academic performance but helped to improve the students’ language acquisition and academic cognition” (Lo, 2008a, p. 18). Notice that T. Nguyen (1998) drew the same conclusion ten years previously!
            Though some changes might somehow affect the Cham MLTP, all Cham students steadily attended all Cham classes, which kept the program stable in its development. During its implementation in 34 years from 1978 up to now, the class time changed from 3 periods a week, later on 4 periods, then 2 periods, and finally back to 3 periods a week. The textbooks were edited and replaced four times. The Cham teacher assignments were switched from class teacher (one teacher taught one Cham class) to subject teacher (one teacher taught from two to ten Cham classes). The CTCC that directly managed the Cham MLTP was dissolved and replaced by MEO since 2010, whose duty was broadened to all minority groups in the Ninh Thuan province. Some factors, which caused negative impacts on the Cham program, were decided and persistently implemented by the government without concern for the stakeholders’ opinion, such as the Cham MLTP structure and MLTP teacher assignment.
The achievement of the Cham MLTP on Cham language maintenance extended beyond the schooling arena, and influenced the attitudes and treatment of Cham community members on Cham language use. There was movement towards speaking the right and pure Cham language, singing Cham songs, and performing Cham folk dances in the community, especially among young people and students. Banners and slogans in Cham were seen more often in cultural and social activities, such as, group meetings, festival, weddings, and funerals.
The great involvement of Cham community. Since the foundation of the Cham MLTP and the direct management authority, CTCC, the Cham community constantly has been concerned for the sustainable development of the Cham language teaching and learning. Frequent interaction with the Cham MLTP for concerned issues encouraged and promoted the fulfillment of the program purposes. Through many activities, related to the teaching and learning Cham language in primary schools, and the involvement of community, are presented as the evident to prove the involvement of students, teachers, parents and specialists as bellows,
(a) The Cham people are proud of their native tongue, what they learned from schools they are willing to use it in their daily life, in families and communities. They eagerly attend all the meetings in full strength for vital issues of Cham language, i.e. their constructive attitudes and exciting discussion in the conference to response the controversy of Cham writing system, (1) on February 2007, they participated in arriving at a proper conclusion; (2) over 42 conferences from 1978 to 1988 for choosing proper Cham orthography, and; (3) their denial and termination to the Tran Xuan Ngoc Lan project of using the Romanized script in Cham schooling in Ninh Thuan province (Quang, 2005).
(b) The percentage of literates in Cham language is higher and higher when compared with decades ago, when their proficiency was only in oral. Annually the number increased from 1500 to 2000 literates mainly provided by MLTP classes.
(c) For years, 100% Cham children attended MLTP and had opportunities to learn their mother tongue. Even some mixed blood or other ethnic group children living in Cham villages have attended the Cham MLTP classes.
Other institute supports. There are few magazines, newspapers, published in Cham, and Internet designed in Cham. The radio and television programs in the Cham language have been the favorites of Cham students and community. Because of high tech achievement, the Vietnamese language has been overwhelming everywhere, even in Cham homes (as students said 4% of the Vietnamese language used in Cham home), these few mass media in Cham channels above are really helpful for Cham students to practice and to develop their Cham language. The combined effect of the above-cited developments (1) the Cham CLTP and (2) other institute supports had created a good environment to nurture the love and the pride of MLTP students’ Cham mother language.
Students’ better academic performance and Cham language literacy. Recently the annual reports concluded the same evaluation on the Cham MLTP that the academic performance of MLTP students, usually better than average score of general (monolingual) students in the district and province. Even findings from the interview data agreed with the above statement. The number in Table 15 on final scores of the fifth grade students in 2010-2011 confirmed the consideration. The average of percentage student reach proficiency in Vietnamese in Thuan Nam district was 96% and Ninh Thuan province, 94%, while that was higher in Huu Duc elementary school 100%, Vu Bon, 100%, and Van Lam 99%. The average of percentage student reach proficiency in mathematics in Thuan Nam district was 93%, and Ninh Thuan province 91%, while that was higher in Huu Duc elementary was higher 93%, Vu Bon, 100%, Van Lam, 99%.
In comparison with educational situation at the beginning of the program, the change was clearer. From the early days of MLTP, not many Cham people know Cham AT or Cham literacy. The program started with two classes in the first grade, including 82 students. It gradually rose upon the moving into upper grades until grade 5 in these two laboratory schools. Year by year, it covered all 23 schools. Now 100% Cham students in 25 elementary schools attended the MLTP program account for 9,000 students. The students met proficiency altered from 83 to 90% of total students annually. Since 1978 there were more than 40 thousands students achieved Cham literacy and annually added up 1.5 to 2 thousands Cham literates. Along with this, from the beginning of the program, Chan students experienced class repetition and drop out at a very high rate, about 30% to 50%. The academic performance was usually below the average of the district, and province (Specialist and teacher interviews, 2012). Now Cham schools, especially MLTP students had got the average (reach proficiency) equal or higher than that of the district and province. The dropout and class repetition rate were remarkably reduced, close to the national rate (dropout under 1% and class repetition under 6%) (Specialist and teacher interview, 2012).
Students’ attitude. Most of attendant students believe that the Cham MLTP is helpful for them to better learn other subjects in Vietnamese and being literacy in Cham language. Simultaneously, the love of their mother language, the pride of their language and self-confidence grew up with the development of their cognition and language proficiency. Their language ability development provide them constructive interaction and communication more effective and appropriate with fewer borrowed Vietnamese words. The more proficient they are, the more often they like to use the language in their daily life. The habits of using mother tongue with their Cham community emerge in different domains impact their friends, classmates and neighbors then spread among community. The movements of speaking and singing Cham in young students and university students recently were examples of the spreading of the youths’ Cham interaction habits. Those Cham communications and interactions contribute to the live long of the Cham language.
Despite the laudable achievements of MLTP in maintaining at a higher level of students’ academic achievement and perpetuation of the Cham language, there are some defects, which hinder the full achievement of MLTP’s objectives. There are some typical limitations as following,
The need to develop the academic achievement of MLTP. It has been proven that the longer the language program is implemented, the better the results become. The different implementation of 3 or 4 periods per week also might or might not make specific effect on the MLTP students’ performances, but the program span between only 5 years and 9 years to 12 years must cause big different efficacy on the result of the program. The limitation of the Cham MLTP for its program span is only 5 years, up to the fifth grade. For lost the facilitation of the acquisition of the Cham language program, they met difficulties in the Vietnamese acquisition and experienced limitation in Vietnamese performance. Cham students at the secondary schools needed the extra Vietnamese classes, which they did not need when studying at elementary level to catch up with their Vietnamese peers. 
The MLTP structure needs to extend to higher classes. When they graduate from elementary school and enter secondary schools or higher later where no Cham classes are held. Cham students were exposed to only Vietnamese in all subjects, so that they may soon forget the Cham language learned in MLTP. Their goal of Cham literacy was not sustained because the program was discontinued at the secondary level. With the dominance of Vietnamese everywhere and living away from their parents and many other reasons, children’s Cham language face a high risk of being replaced by Vietnamese. Thus the literacy in Cham, which they need to develop in 8 to 10 years, was broken in the half way of development. As one specialist mentioned, what they learn in only 5 years is not enough foundation for them to apply in their social economic lives. Generally, writers could present their talent above age of 16 or 18. If the enforcement of the Cham program is not sustained until that age, Cham students are unable to develop their writing talents. The Cham language cannot be a language of literature as it used to be. The literates that Cham MLTP annually provided are insufficient proficiency level to facilitate the effect of institute supports. Thus, the structure of the Cham program should be, as least as other healthy programs in the nation, up to 9 grades for sustaining literacy goals.
Inadequate teacher assignment to teach Cham classes. Since 2001, when the number of graduate Cham teachers exceeded the number of Cham classes, instead of one teacher served one class, the district offices of education and training assigned one teacher to teach more than two Cham classes. Since 2004, there were about 50 teachers who served all Cham classes of more than 350 classes with about 9,000 students. This impropriate ratio caused bad effect to teacher training and achievement of the MLTP purposes. The final scores of Cham subject, were supposed to go up steadily, however, with the application of this subject teacher policy where one teacher taught more than two classes, the final scores dropped down more than 20.4% in 2006 right at that year, and this also depressed the teachers’ motivation of Cham language teaching (Lo, 2008b). Result in Cham teachers gradually lost the motivation and enthusiasm of attending Cham teacher training courses and learning-practicing the Cham language teachings. That was the reason why there was no teacher-training course since 2004. The statement of MOET that the big obstacle of MLTPs in Vietnam was lack of minority language teachers made no sense, because for save money and overload reduction the subject teacher policy soon will apply for these programs as it did for Cham MLTP.  By that way, training without using, no need to train more minority language teachers as it was for Cham MLTP since 2004.
Lack of support instruction at home. Because there was not many Cham language teaching and learning courses for adults in Ninh Thuan, many Cham adults did no know how to read and write the language as well. The number of Cham illiterates in the community is still very high, including some teachers. Sometimes Cham community made requests for Cham classes but there was no response, nor permission from the local government. Almost parents did not know how the instruction in classes was going on. They could not help their kids to study Cham language at home. Although there currently is a Cham language-learning program in television, parents rarely help their children learn Cham at home.
Some Recommendations to Maintain the Progress of the Cham Language
Develop curriculum. Cham language needs a relevant curriculum to overcome those above limitations. Some adjustments should apply as soon as possible as: Cham language should be taught 4 hours a week for primary school; Cham language program should last through high school from grade 6 to grade 12 with at most 2 periods per week; Certificate in Cham language is condition for ethnic minority students to attend University. The language materials used in MLTP should include some Cham typical cultural features and activities. The Cham program structure should be relevant to provide sufficient time for Cham student to reach full Cham literacy and proficiency. The appropriate element of cultural factors should be designed in the Cham curriculum to nurture the students’ language and identity pride, which encourage them to use the Cham language as much as they can.
If we have effective measures and relevant curriculum to realize the language policy, the Cham language lives longer with its community and contribute remarkable role to the function of social interactions and the community development, orally and literally.
Promoting the role of Minority Education Office. The decision of the termination of CTCC operation, the CTCC personnel were transferred to the minority education office (MEO) directly under the education and training department of Ninh Thuan province performing broader duties. It meant that MEO is taking the responsibility to all minority groups in the province in stead of only Cham at CTCC period: (1) to study the minority languages for a unified orthography to use in compiled textbooks and extra reading books; (2) to direct, supervise, examine the teaching and learning of minority languages, and; (3) to train the minority language teachers and enhance quality of teaching minority languages. The role of OME was to recognize and adjust the inadequacy between the governmental policy and implementation and to inform the success and defects for a better future of the implementation. However, since 2011, there were no annual reports of teaching supervision and learning testing of the Cham program as the CTCC did with the Cham MLTP. Moreover, the Decree 82/2010/TT-BGDDT guided the Cham MLTP to extend to secondary and high school grades, and to launch Cham course in the continuing education centers. However, there is no sign to say that OME prepare to realize the Decree 82/2010/TT-BGDDT. The OME needs to be waked up and do what they need to do for a better MLTP for Cham and other ethnic groups in Ninh Thuan province.
“One teacher for one Cham class” at elementary schools. The proper teacher assignments had great affected the quality of Cham MLTP. Teachers’ ability, knowledge and skills were recognized, respected and appropriately exploited in assignment to teach Cham classes, they would be accumulated and promoted to a higher level. The skillful and qualified teachers took full affect to the success of the Cham MLTP as the first 25 years of the Cham program. The teachers were aware of that important link, their enthusiasm, motivation of Cham teaching and love of Cham language continued develop and transfer to their students. The good result could be seen in the annual final grades, which were steadily increased from 2 to 5% around 75 to 90% students of proficiency in Cham language during the first 25 years of the Cham MLTP development.
On the other hand, in subject teacher assignment, one teacher taught up to ten Cham classes, as applied since 2004, about 50 teachers taught 350 Cham classes. Pleading overload reduction or financial difficulty, local educational authority of Ninh Thuan province kept on doing improper assignment for years and spreading immeasurable bad effect on the Cham and other programs in Vietnam. More than 1,000 Cham teachers knew that their knowledge and skills in teaching Cham language, which were not exploited and linked to the success of the Cham MLTP. Their motivation of teaching and improving teaching not only were perished, but also their re-illiteracy could be true. Some features to understand the harmful effect of the improper assignment: The percentage of students reached proficiency in Cham classes was dropped down 20.4% right at that year; the enrolment for teacher training courses in 8 years was only 53 attenders (Trai, 2006b). Obviously, to avoid this unexpectedly harmful effect on the MLTP, “one Cham teacher teaches one Cham class” is both an aim and an important principle.
Enhance mass media. To revive a minority language into stable function in its native community is not easy. Just language teaching in primary schools and using in family are not enough. Lack of the usage Cham communicative and interactive models in local mass media, which is recognized as the motive restrict of the development of the language function. The local should upgrade and lengthen the periods of TV and radio broadcasting in the Cham. At least one magazine or newspaper is published in Cham monthly or weekly and delivered to their doors. The producing films and karaoke in Cham language should be strengthened. At first translation literature should be enhanced to meet the emergent needs of Cham students and communities. The government should fund to engage the Cham community with these activities.
Launch adult classes. In order to help Cham adult review their mother language, classes for adult should be held in all villages or in the continuing education centers. Cham community used to request for Cham classes for adults. To launch Cham classes for adults both satisfy the needs of Cham community, requirement of sweeping Cham illiteracy programs, and support instructions of their children at home. These courses are also helpful to the government officers working in the Cham areas, and researchers in the Cham field. Any kinds of Cham classes will provide more Cham literates and contribute to the maintenance and development of the Cham language. Those are necessary to build a bilingual environment sustainably in Cham community’s maintenance and development of the Cham language.
Promote the speaking and writing of the Cham language. Because use the language is to maintain the language, therefore using the language is the crucial factors to preserve and develop the language (Baker, 2011). When the Cham language speakers conduct a conversation they provide Cham exposures to the surrounding people. The language, which the speakers use, confirms their identities. The more you use the language, the more you get the language fluency and proficiency, and of course the more you prefer to use the language. There were some Cham said that they are proud of and love the language but they use the Vietnamese language among their Cham friend and partners in day to day conversation. Those persons are unconsciously betraying their Cham mother language and actually denying their Cham identity. In reality, many Cham people agree with this and they do not know that they are unintentionally ignoring and damaging their Cham language and identity. In order to nurture the love and pride of your Cham language, the Cham speakers should write and speak the Cham language more often whenever, wherever they can. This makes Cham language can be more often heard and seen helps the Cham language come to a higher level of exposure, be listerned and be read. This prepares the high motivation of Cham speaking and writing among Cham people, and contributes to a sustainable maintenance of the Cham language.

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