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Is bilingual education desirable in multilingual countries?

Yuki, Kazuhiro (2018): Is bilingual education desirable in multilingual countries?


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Many developing countries are populated by multiple ethnic groups who use their own language in daily life and in local business, but have to use a common language in national business and in communications with other groups. In these countries, how much weights should be placed on teaching a local ethnic language and teaching a common language is a critical issue. A similar conflict arises in low-income countries in general between teaching skills that are "practical" and directly useful in local jobs, and teaching academic skills that are important in modern sector jobs. This paper develops a model to examine these questions theoretically. It is shown that balanced education of the two languages/skills is critical for skill development of those with limited wealth for education. It is also found that the balanced education brings higher earnings net of educational expenditure, only when a country has favorable conditions (TFP is reasonably high, and education, in particular, common language education [academic education] is reasonably e¤ective) and only for those with adequate wealth. Common-language-only (academic-only) education maximizes net earnings of those with little wealth, and, when the country's conditions are not good, maximizes net earnings of all. This implies that there exists a trade-off between educational and economic outcomes for those with little wealth, and, when the conditions are not good, the trade-off exists for everyone without adequate wealth. Policy implications derived from the results too are discussed.

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