Oxford Professor Delivers Oration at MLCU

August 3, 2022

The first Lititia A. Suchiang Oration was delivered by Dr Sonali Nag, professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Oxford, UK, on August 3, 2022 at the Martin Luther Christian University campus. She spoke on “The Learning Continuum: Home, School and Beyond”. The oration is named after a young and beloved MLCU faculty member who tragically passed away in 2018.

Prof Sonali presented her findings on the importance of home learning. Even in a slum like Dharavi, some poor households are able to provide a conducive home learning environment which complements school learning. She emphasised the usefulness of embedding learning in story books which are more effective as a learning tool than conventional teaching methods. Reading to children whether at home or in school significantly improves language acquisition.

Dr Sonali’s academic work has covered a broad range of research topics spanning the disciplines of psychology, education, linguistics and sociology. Her work has influenced research agendas, funding portfolios, education policies, curriculum frameworks and learning materials for children, their teachers and caretakers.

She has investigated the cognitive bases of learning to read in the Indic scripts of South Asia. She has conducted studies on literacy development in Kannada, Bengali, Tamil, Sinhala and Hindi. She has also studied the contextual factors influencing literacy and foundation learning. Her work on child assessment has drawn attention to large-scale replication of Western tests even when education systems are not teaching a European language.

The program was chaired by Prof. Badaplin War, Department of Khasi, NEHU, who also commented on the difficulties that Khasi and other tribal children face in language learning. The oration was preceded by a recital of Khasi lullabies by Ms. Amabel Susngi, a Tata Samvad Fellow and a PhD scholar. An exhibition of paintings of mothers and children were displayed by Ms Careen J Langstieh