In 1951, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) convened a Committee of Experts to consider the question of language of education on a world-wide basis. Its report (UNESCO, 1953) has had a considerable influence on the discussion of educational linguistic matters ever since. 1 The position the committee took was that the language schoolchildren can effectively use should be given priority in selecting the medium of instruction. On this criterion, it becomes clear that the choice in virtually every case will be the child's mother tongue:
It is axiomatic that the best medium for teaching a child is his mother tongue. Psychologically, it is the system of meaningful signs that in his mind works automatically for expression and understanding. Sociologically, it is a means of identification among the members of the community to which he belongs. Educationally, he learns more quickly through it than through an unfamiliar linguistic medium.