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UNESCO calls for mother tongue-based education

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Thursday called on countries to pursue a policy of multilingual education, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, celebrated on February 21.

The organization advocates for children to be taught in their mother tongue from the earliest years of schooling, which can be combined with the official language of instruction – an approach known as multilingual education, it says. her in a statement.

UNESCO’s Global Database on Inequalities in Education shows that, overall, children who receive an education in a language they speak at home are 30% more likely to be able to read by the end of primary school than those who do not speak the language of instruction, specifies the UN agency based in Paris.

The data also shows that teaching in the first language or in the mother tongue improves children’s social skills, it is noted.

“To help combat the current global learning crisis, while preserving linguistic diversity which is an essential cultural element, UNESCO encourages governments to implement mother tongue-based multilingual education from the early years of schooling. We know it works. There is empirical evidence that confirms that it helps children learn,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, quoted in the press release.

UNESCO particularly calls on the international community to support African States in their actions to develop multilingual learning.

And to specify that a new UNESCO report, entitled “Born to learn”, shows that at most one in five children receives education in their mother tongue in Africa, a continent with the greatest linguistic diversity.

This situation, notes the same source, is unfavorable to learning outcomes in this region, where only one in five students masters the basics of reading, writing and mathematics, even after completing primary school.

On the occasion of Mother Language Day, UNESCO also recalls the importance of safeguarding indigenous languages. At least 40% of the more than 6,700 languages ​​spoken in the world are threatened with long-term extinction for lack of speakers.

UNESCO is the Organization in charge of the Decade of Indigenous Languages ​​2022-2032, a plan of action aimed at drawing the world’s attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages ​​and the urgent need to preserve them, to revitalize and celebrate them.



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