The Rutu Foundation regularly publishes reports,scholarly articles and books about multilingual education, language friendly learning, translanguaging and  You can find our publications here. To receive updates on new publications, sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social media.

cover Global Campus Human Rights Journal

Redressing Language-Based Exclusion and Punishment in Education and the Language Friendly School Initiative (2020)

In this article published by the Global Campus Human Rights Journal, human rights consultant Deena Hurwitz (Rutu advisory board member and Ellen-Rose Kambel (director Rutu Foundation), addressed the problem of language-based exclusion and punishment of children and their parents, in education.

“This is not about the right to be educated in and through one’s mother tongue, but about the right of students (and their parents) not to be discriminated against, excluded, restricted or punished for using their mother tongue on school grounds, including in the classroom. While the former problem has caught the attention of children’s rights advocates, the latter has been rather neglected. An overview of examples of such practice found in different sources and covering various parts of the world is given to show that it is widespread and damaging to the children’s development. The human rights implications of such practice are considered by referring to the international instruments in force regarding children’s rights in education, with a focus on the European context and its relevant framework. The approach proposed to tackle the issue, namely, the Language Friendly School initiative, can be inspiring for educators in schools worldwide.” (Chiara Altafin, editorial of the special focus on children’s rights).

Read the full article.

Rutu Submits Report to UN Race Committee on Language Based Exclusion in Dutch Education (2020)

Language Friendly School in Toronto, Canada

Language Friendly Schools welcome and value all languages spoken. Image of the Silver Creek School in Toronto, Canada.

The Rutu Foundation works to eradicate all forms of language based discrimination in education. We do this by supporting Language Friendly Schools. We also encourage international human rights bodies to clarify that such acts constitute human rights violations.

On 27 March 2020, the Rutu Foundation submitted an Alternative Report on Language Based Exclusion, Punishment and Discrimination in Dutch Education to the United Nations Committee which oversees the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Although quantitative data is lacking, there are strong indications that the practice of prohibiting students (and their parents) from speaking a language other than Dutch in school is widespread in the Netherlands. This includes stopping students from speaking their home languages with each other while playing on the playground. Or asking parents not to use their mother tongue with their children when they drop them off and pick them up from school.

When children are discriminated against in school, humiliated by teachers and bullies, or regularly punished, their socio-emotional and cognitive development is greatly hindered. They feel greater shame for who they are. They feel even more like outsiders at school. And they perform worse academically than children in schools where such practices do not occur. These children drop out at higher rates. Some are even forced out of educational institutions (as in the case of a Dutch-Turkish secondary school student who was expelled from school in 2013). This significantly reduces their future earning potential. It also deepens the inequities between dominant and minority groups.

In the Netherlands, the suppression of home languages has become thoroughly internalized. This is because of the persistent belief that ‘forgetting’ one’s mother tongue and speaking the dominant language is the only way to achieve economic and social success.

The Rutu Foundation calls on the Committee to address language exclusion, discrimination and punishment against students with a migrant or linguistic minority background as part of the State’s obligation to eliminate racial discrimination in the Netherlands. We ask that the State collect data on language discrimination in education, develop an anti-language discrimination awareness campaign, and institutionalize teacher training on multilingual education.

Read the whole report here.

Dealing with diversity and multilingualism in primary education. Guide for teacher trainers in Suriname (2018)

This guide (in Dutch) provides theoretical background and practical tools for teacher trainers in Suriname, the Netherlands and Flanders who need to prepare their students to teach culturally diverse and multilingual classrooms. The guide consists of four modules that can be used separately or together and is authored by Dr. Ellen-Rose Kambel, Dr. Ellen-Petra Kester, Dr. Emmanuelle Le Pichon-Vorstman and Maggie Schmeitz, MA.

The modules (in Dutch) can be downloaded for free.

Omgaan met diversiteit en meertaligheid in het basisonderwijs. Handleiding voor lerarenopleiders in Suriname

De handleiding geeft theoretische achtergronden en praktische tools voor lerarenopleiders uit Suriname, Nederland en Vlaanderen die hun studenten willen voorbereiden op lesgeven aan een cultureel diverse en meertalige klas.
De handleiding bestaat uit vier modules die afzonderlijk of gezamenlijk gebruikt kunnen worden en is geschreven door mr. dr. Ellen-Rose Kambel, dr. Ellen-Petra Kester, dr. Emmanuelle Le Pichon-Vorstman en drs. Maggie Schmeitz.

De modules kunnen gratis gedownload worden.


Multilingualism and Education/Meertaligheid en Onderwijs: Nederlands Plus (2017)

The Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium) are becoming increasingly multilingual. This is reflected in the classroom. Of the many languages spoken by pupils in schools, only a handful has a place within the education system. A missed opportunity.

This book (in Dutch, with a code inside that gives access to the online English version), provides the reader access to the latest academic findings as well as insight into the social importance of multilingualism and multilingual education. Several authors, including researchers, high school students, a lawyer, an artist, teachers and policy makers provide a broad approach of the subject and show the value of language diversity. The chapters discuss the multilingualism of students with a migrant background in the Netherlands and Flanders, but also relate to issues from Suriname, Sweden, the Dutch Antilles (St. Eustatius) and Frisian language education. The book includes recommendations for policy makers and education professionals, but parents with multilingual children may also get new insights into language policies and best practices at school and at home.

Multilingualism and Education won the second prize for Best Education Book of the Year 2018 in the Netherlands. The award is handed out every year by the National Association of Educational Support Professionals (Landelijke Beroepsgroep voor Begeleiders in het Onderwijs).

Orhan Agirdag and Ellen-Rose Kambel (eds.), Meertaligheid en Onderwijs: Nederlands Plus. Amsterdam: Boom Publishers/ Rutu Foundation (2017).

Order your copy here

Challenges of Mathematics Education in Multilingual Post-Colonial Context. The Case of Suriname (2016)

OmslagIn this book chapter, Emmanuelle Le Pichon (University of Toronto/Rutu Advisory board) and Ellen-Rose Kambel (director Rutu Foundation) examine whether the language of assessment influences performance scores of young dual learners in mathematics and reading tests in order to determine the role of dual language support at primary school level in Suriname. The objectives of this chapter are to deepen insight into Suriname’s linguistic landscape and to emphasize the need for plurilingual and intercultural education.

They place the debate in the context of international legal obligations of Suriname which approved the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). This declaration includes the right of indigenous peoples to provide education in their own language in accordance with their traditions.

Given the current high academic dropout rate in Suriname, in particular in the rural areas, the results informed in this chapter are decidedly releant.

In: Zehlia Babaci-Wilhite (Ed.), Human Rights in Language and STEM Education, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers (2016).

Look inside.

Brochure: Translanguaging

Translanguaging is an evidence-based answer to the question of finding effective pedagogic strategies for multilingual classrooms. Translanguaging builds on the linguistic background of the pupil to help them learn more effectively. It gives the multilingual student the opportunity to optimize their cognitive and emotional development whilst also being a powerful stimulator for the linguistic development of monolingual students. Read more.

Translanguaging is een wetenschappelijk onderbouwd antwoord op de vraag naar effectieve pedagogische strategieën voor meertalige klassen. Translanguaging bouwt voort op wat de leerling al weet om het aanleren van nieuwe concepten in de schooltaal te bevorderen. Het geeft meertalige leerlingen de mogelijkheid zich cognitief en emotioneel optimaal te ontwikkelen en vormt tegelijkertijd een krachtige stimulans voor de taalontwikkeling van ééntalige kinderen.

“Door translanguaging de ruimte te geven op school, krijgen leerlingen de kans zich optimaal te ontwikkelen.”