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In this presentation, we give concrete examples of how community-based approaches can successfully mobilise people at all levels to engage in the formulation and implementation of changes in policy, planning and practice aimed at addressing the challenges posed by the imposition of colonial languages in education in the Caribbean, Latin America and the South Pacific. On the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, students attend schools where the colonial language Dutch is used as the language of instruction. Because Dutch is a foreign language for most of them, they have experienced high failure rates. We report on our involvement in an action-research project that has led to a change in official policy from the use of Dutch to the use of the students’ home language as language of instruction. In Honduras, we worked with six indigenous and two African-descended communities whose children have suffered high failure rates because their home languages are different from the official colonial language Spanish.  In this project, community activists themselves became co-researchers along with other community members and in this presentation we share the very robust results they obtained supporting the use of students’ home languages. In Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific, we have worked in community-driven initiatives for the implementation of language policies that integrate students’ home languages into educational systems where the colonial languages English and French were formerly used as the exclusive languages of instruction.  These initiatives effectively demonstrate that, even in a situation where students speak hundreds of different languages and financial resources are limited, effective home language education programmes can be established and maintained by community members themselves.

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Nicholas Faraclas 3066
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