Editorial: Navajo reading materials only available on the Internet

Newspaper wonders whether families on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico will be able to access reading materials on the Internet:
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's announcement last week that state education materials will be translated into Diné acknowledges the importance of the Navajo language. But, ultimately, the program fails to acknowledge the lack of Internet access on the Navajo Nation.

Martinez announced that the state's "Readers Raise the Roof" materials will soon be translated into Diné so parents who only speak the Navajo language can help improve their children's reading skills. The interactive program helps students learn to read and teaches parents strategies to support their children. In theory, translating the materials into Diné means more people can access them with the goal of improving elementary school students' reading scores.

But simply translating the materials doesn't go far enough. The program's parent portal can only be accessed online, and, as one parent pointed out last week, that can be a problem on the reservation, where Internet availability is limited. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael raised a valid concern. While the program benefits urban families, it doesn't do much for those in rural and remote regions. He says more effort should be devoted to building infrastructure in those places that will provide Internet access.

Less than 4 percent of people on the Navajo Nation have access to basic wireline broadband speeds of 3 megabits per second downstream, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's National Broadband Map. While the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is working to change that, it's an uphill battle. Tribal officials say an $8 million data center in Shiprock that opened last year will provide wireless Internet access to 70 percent of the Navajo population living on the reservation. But that process will likely take years and millions more dollars.

Get the Story:
EDITORIAL: Dine reading program falls short (The Farmington Daily Times 3/30)

Also Today:
State education materials will now be available in the Navajo language (The Farmington Daily Times 3/30)

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