DILI, 20 february 2023 (TATOLI)- The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said Enhancing multilingual education is necessary to transform education in multilingual contexts from early childhood education.
Audrey Azoulay said following 40% of the world’s students do not have access to education in the language they speak or understand best.
Mother-tongue-based education is essential to the full development of individuals and the transmission of linguistic heritage, While, 40% of the world’s students do not have access to education in the language they speak or understand best. Such a situation severely undermines learning, cultural expression, and the building of social relations, and significantly weakens the linguistic heritage of humanity.
“Enhancing multilingual education is necessary to transform education in multilingual contexts from early childhood education and well beyond; Supporting learning through multilingual education and multilingualism in our fast-changing global contexts and crises including emergencies contexts; Revitalizing languages that are disappearing or are threatened with extinction,” The Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay said in her statement at the celebration of International Mother Language Day, theme’Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education” This theme is aligned with recommendations made during the Transforming Education Summit, where an emphasis was also placed on Indigenous people’s education and languages.
International Mother Language Day recognizes that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals focus on leaving no one behind.
“UNESCO encourages and promotes multilingual education based on the mother tongue or first language. It is a type of education that begins in the language that the learner masters most and then gradually introduce other languages. This approach enables learners whose mother tongue is different from the language of instruction to bridge the gap between home and school, to discover the school environment in a familiar language, and thus, learn better,” she said.
According to Audrey Azoulay, Multilingualism contributes to the development of inclusive societies that allow multiple cultures, worldviews, and knowledge systems to coexist and cross-fertilize.
“Multilingual education based on the mother tongue facilitates access to and inclusion in learning for population groups that speak non-dominant languages, languages of minority groups, and indigenous languages. Celebrated every year on 21 February, UNESCO reiterates its commitment to linguistic diversity and invites its Member States to celebrate the day in as many languages as possible as a reminder that linguistic diversity and multilingualism are essential for sustainable development,”
It is therefore crucial that this language issue be taken into account in the necessary exercise of transforming education, which UNESCO was supporting throughout 2022, culminating in the Transforming Education Summit, convened last September by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.
This imperative first requires a better collection of data, which will make it possible to carry out specific and customized actions.
“Above all, however, it requires a more general awareness of the irreplaceable but fragile value of the world’s linguistic and cultural diversity. Each of the more than 7,000 languages spoken by humanity carries within it a unique view of the world, of things and beings, a way of thinking and feeling – so much so that each disappearance of a language constitutes an irretrievable loss,” said
In this context, the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022–2032), for which UNESCO is the leading agency, is an important opportunity for the international community to mobilize to safeguard a major part of the world’s cultural diversity.
This is also the aim of this International Day: celebrating these ways of expressing the world in its multiplicity, committing to the preservation of the diversity of languages as a common heritage, and working for quality education – in mother tongues – for all.
Journalist : Camilio de Sousa
Editor : Nelia B.