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Quality education speaks many languages

published 19 February 2016 updated 8 March 2016

This year’s International Mother Language Day stresses that learning in one’s native tongue is not only crucial to achieving quality education and linguistic diversity, but important to advancing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, mother tongue education and quality education are closely intertwined, as data speak for themselves: an estimated 40 percent of the global population does not receive education in a language they speak or understand. This is why the theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day is Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes.

“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,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, in an online statement.

As the influx of refugees continues to increase in light of the Syrian conflict, and destination countries work to integrate children into the classroom, the importance of mother language is receiving a renewed international focus. However, the struggle that countless cultures face to preserve their native languages continues daily around the world.

Multilingualism essential for new SDGs

In the new 2030 Agenda, sustainable Development Goal 4 focuses on quality education and lifelong learning for all, to enable every woman and man to acquire skills, knowledge, and values to become actively engaged and included in their societies. This is especially important for girls and women, as well as minorities, indigenous peoples, and rural populations. UNESCO’s Education 2030 Framework for Action is a reflection of the above aims, and includes a road-map to implement the 2030 Agenda, encouraging full respect for the use of mother language in teaching and learning, and the promotion and preservation of linguistic diversity.