On the occasion of International Mother Language Day, celebrated on February 21, Aide et Action reaffirms its commitment to multilingual education and highlights its importance for the education of thousands of children.
In 1999, during the 30th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, countries adopted a Resolution establishing the concept of “multilingual education” to refer to the use of at least three languages in education: the mother tongue(s), a regional or national language and an international language. Yet even today, it is not uncommon to see schools ignore this resolution and offer no alternative to students. Thus, cases of school failure concerning children who speak minority languages are increasing.
For truly inclusive education
For Aide et Action, it is essential to act! We have always promoted multilingual education as a means of improving learning and bringing cultural diversity to life. Wherever it is necessary, we support communities so that their education systems can become more inclusive. To do so, we train teachers in bilingual education methods, we develop teaching materials adapted to the language of each community and we work in close collaboration with local authorities so that this issue is understood and integrated by all.
Every two weeks, a language disappears forever
Today, even though we are making progress in this field, especially relating to preschool education, almost 40% of the world population still does not have access to education in their mother tongue. According to UNESCO: ‟More than 43% of the approximately 6,700 languages spoken worldwide are at risk of disappearing. Only several hundred languages are really valued in the education system and in the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world. This means that every two weeks a language disappears forever, taking with it a whole cultural and intellectual heritage.”
But beyond keeping and respecting traditions , it is the mastery of one’s first language, or mother tongue, that the basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic can be acquired. This is why multilingual education is so important for the future of thousands of children. By raising the quality of teaching and learning by emphasizing understanding and creativity, rather than repetition and memory, it offers populations speaking minority or indigenous languages the same opportunities as others. It’s a simple matter of fairness and essential to creating a more just and equal world.