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International Mother Language Day




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International Mother Language Day

This year's International Mother Language Day– 21 February 2016 – is drawing attention to the importance of mother tongue languages in the early years of schooling, a key part of taking the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development forward.

Around the world some 7,000 languages are spoken. For children, this often means that the language spoken at home might be different from what is used at the official level in government or by their parents in the workplace.

In such bilingual or multilingual contexts, this can pose difficult questions for education professionals in determining which language should be used in school. To help with this, the IIEP Learning Portal has a dedicated section to guide planners, decision-makers and other involved actors towards understanding the various perspectives and information on how to ensure that all students are able to learn in a language that is familiar to them.

Access our resources on the IIEP Learning Portal here.

Underscoring the importance of the medium of instruction, the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report has released a policy report revealing that as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in the language they speak and understand. The report says that at least six years of mother tongue instruction is needed to reduce learning gaps for minority language speakers.

The IIEP Learning Portal currently offers sections on understanding the two perspectives behind providing monolingual or bilingual learning instruction and information on how to implement language of instruction policies.

Mother languages in a multilingual approach are essential components of quality education, which is itself the foundation for empowering women and men and their societies."- Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General

Created in 1999 by UNESCO, Mother Tongue Language Day promotes awareness on linguistic and cultural diversity. UNESCO also recognizes that mother tongue languages are an important factor for inclusion as well as quality in education.


Contributed by : Alexandra Waldhorn, IIEP Communications officer