Multilingual education: preserving diversity and ensuring inclusion

Photo credit: Christine Redmond

On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, celebrated on 21 February, Aide et Action reaffirms its commitment to of multilingual education and its importance for the schooling of thousands of children.

In 1999, at the 30ème At the first session of the General Conference of UNESCO, countries adopted a Resolution introducing the notion 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. However, even today, it is not uncommon to see schools ignoring this resolution and not offering any alternative to pupils. As a result, there are increasing cases of school failure for children who speak minority languages.

For a truly inclusive education

For Aide et Action, it is essential to act! Our association has always promoted multilingual education as a means of improving learning and bringing cultural diversity to life. Wherever necessary, we support communities to make their education systems truly inclusive. We do this by training teachers in bilingual education methods, developing teaching materials adapted to the language of each community, and working closely with local authorities to ensure that the subject is understood and integrated by all.

Every fortnight, a language disappears forever

Today, although progress has been made in this area, with growing awareness, especially for pre-school, almost 40% of the world's population does not have access to education in their mother tongue. According to UNESCO: " more than 43% of the approximately 6,700 languages spoken in the world are threatened with extinction. Only several hundred languages are truly 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 fortnight, a language disappears forever, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage ."

But beyond this traditional aspect, it is through mastering one's first language, or mother tongue, that basic literacy and numeracy skills 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 emphasising understanding and creativity, rather than repetition and memory, it offers minority and indigenous language speakers the same opportunities as others. It is simply a matter of equity.

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