Although 25 million of Mexican considered themselves as part of indigenous groups, a group of educational researchers noticed that kids could not find toys or games in any of the 68 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico by more than 7 million of people. As stated by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INE) the number of indigenous languages speakers has fallen from 16% of the population in 1930 to barely 6% today.
In an article published on July 27th, the Spanish journal El País highlighted a research project developed in Mexico aimed to teach Mexican kids indigenous languages.
The project developed by a research group of the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) alongside the Higher Center of Social Anthropology (CIESAS) is aimed to promote among kids the languages spoken by their parents and grandparents. A couple of dolls, “Paquita” and “Paquito”, have been designed wearing indigenous clothing as a model of social identification for minors, says Aurelio López, research at the INAOE. Paquitos are recommended for children aged between 2 and 4 years old including various types of interactive games. The doll can speak, saying the parts of the body in the specific language when the child presses it.
The project, entitled “Development of tangible educational and pedagogical robots for the learning and revaluation of indigenous languages” is being tested by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) as part of Mexico’s recent efforts to promote endangered languages.
An educational policy that promotes pluralism, diversity and mutual understanding is part of the Shared Societies Commitments to ensure an education system that offers equal opportunity and educates children to understand and respect others. In addition to this, the bilingualism and the promotion of indigenous languages also “endow children with other abilities in their reasoning”, emphasizes Lopez.
Watch a video in Spanish with additional information about this initiative: