February 21, 2017
On International Mother Language Day, UNPO reaffirms its commitment to advocating language rights of minority and indigenous communities around the world. This year  UNESCO labelled today’s theme as “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”, underlining the importance of ensuring everyone has access to an education in their mother tongue and other languages, in order to gain basic literacy skills. It is essential to allow minority and indigenous communities to be granted the possibility to practice their mother language as it is a vital component in the maintenance of local culture, values and traditions. Widespread multilingual education would also make education more accessible for minority and indigenous communities, whilst promoting a dialogue between global and local cultures. In December 2016, the Donostia Protocol to Ensure Language Rights, finalised by a committee of organisations including UNPO, was released and presented to the public, paving the way for ensuring fundamental linguistic rights to regional and minority communities across Europe and the world. Therefore, on this day UNPO urges the international community to reflect on what more can be done to preserve and protect endangered and unrecognised languages across the world.
Below is an article published by UNESCO:
“On the occasion of this Day, I launch an appeal for the potential of multilingual education to be acknowledged everywhere, in education and administrative systems, in cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade.”
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General
UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on February 21, 2017 under the theme “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages. It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.
Multilingual education facilitates access to education while promoting equity for populations speaking minority and/or indigenous languages, especially girls and women:
- It emphasizes the quality of teaching and learning with a focus on understanding and creativity;
- It reinforces the cognitive aspect of learning by ensuring the direct application of learning outcomes to the learner’s life through the mother tongue