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소수민족인 아카족의 언어, 문화 보존에 동참하는 유니세프

2010.03.26

* UNICEF assists children to overcome ethnic language barriers in Lao schools.
* 시간: 03 min
* 촬영도시: New York City, NY
* 촬영국가: United States
* 촬영일자: 01 Sep 2009


Breakfast time in the household of rice-farmer Mr Sutcha, his wife and their family….It's the most important meal of the day, not least for nine-year old Chapa, the eldest of the couple's four children, and the only one currently attending school.


The language the family speaks is Akha…… It's one of dozens of tongues that make up the complex linguistic and ethnic quilt that is modern-day Laos. It's also the reason why Chapa and other children -- in this mountain village close to the border with China -- face an additional challenge in order to receive an education.


The curriculum taught in the local primary school is in Lao, the country's official language. To most Akha children, Lao is as foreign as English or French. As a result, schools make special provision to ensure that children from ethnic groups get the support they need to cross the language barrier – and avoid the risk of exclusion from mainstream society.


SOUNDBITE: Mr. Bunthieng Keovanglart, District Education Advisor (in Lao – English voiceover): Ethnic languages are very important in the classroom, especially for grade one and grade two students, as these children cannot speak Lao at all.


Teachers must have at least a basic knowledge of the local language, before they can start teaching in schools like this one.


It's in this challenging context that teachers like Ms Sano become such an important asset. She herself is Akha, and didn't start learning Lao until she was a teenager. With the bi-lingual skills she possesses today, she can help her students gain the confidence in speaking, reading and writing in Lao that will be essential tools if they are to move on in life outside the confines of the village.


SOUNDBITE Ms Sano, primary school teacher: (in Lao – English voiceover) 
If someone understands Lao language, they can travel around the country to study or to work. But anyone who can't speak Lao is unable to communicate with other people, so they have to stay in their own village or work in the fields.


Helping Akha children increase their familiarity with Lao language continues even after formal classroom hours. Here as in other UNICEF-supported Schools of Quality, reading huts provide a more informal setting in which children can learn a vital second language together.


Through songs as well, the linguistic foundations are being laid that will enable children like these to become citizens not only of their ethnic community, but of their nation.

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