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Multilingual education
IMLD 2024
Background
UNESCO has consistently highlighted the role of multilingual education based on the first language, also
called mother language or home language, on annual International Mother Language Day celebrations.
The mismatch between home language(s) and school languages has long negatively impacted education
systems in all regions of the world. For decades, the exclusive use of dominant languages for instruction
has been criticized as affecting the quality of teaching. It has also impaired the validity of learning
assessments, and more broadly impacted learners’ future opportunities for education and work. As
many scholars have pointed out, simply using a foreign language as a medium of instruction does not
guarantee effective learning of that language.
Current global situation
The disruption of learning during COVID-19 school closures has put a massive strain on learning. Before
the pandemic, 57 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries could not read and
understand a simple story by the end of primary school (World Bank et al., with UNESCO, 2022). In
2022, this figure rose to 70 percent. In some countries, over 90 percent of students are not taught in a
language they speak and understand (World Bank, 2023). Poor learning outcomes may be a reflection of
inadequate language of instruction policies.
International Mother Language Day 2024
Multilingual education:
A pillar of intergenerational learning
21 February 2024
9:30 am – 1 pm (CET)
Room IV, UNESCO HQ
MDV
Edwards/Shutterstock.com
2
Multilingual education
IMLD 2024
Why multilingual education matters
International Mother Language Day 2024 is an opportunity to remind the international community that
multilingual education enhances learning when the language of instruction is the learner’s first
language. The use of learners’ own languages for literacy and learning provides a solid pillar for
education, and for transfer of skills and knowledge to additional languages. Learning in one’s first
language facilitates understanding and interaction, and further develops critical thinking. It strengthens
self-confidence and self-esteem and stimulates active participation. In addition to boosting learning,
multilingual education contributes to opening the doors to intergenerational learning, the preservation
of culture and intangible heritage, and the revitalization of languages. It enriches multilingualism on the
web and is essential for digital literacy. Multilingual education also helps in acquiring life skills, especially
in the context of emergencies, crises and natural disasters. Thus, refugees, internally or internationally
displaced people and those excluded or marginalized from quality education, such as Indigenous
peoples, are not left behind.
International Mother Language Day 2024
The theme of International Mother Language Day celebration 2024 is “Multilingual education is a pillar
of intergenerational learning”. Today, 250 million children and young people still do not attend school
and 763 million adults do not master basic literacy skills. Mother tongue education supports learning,
literacy and the acquisition of additional languages.
Objectives
International Mother Language Day 2024 aims to support the achievement of the Sustainable
Development Goal 4 on inclusive quality education and lifelong learning and of the objectives of the
International Decade on Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).
The event will also be the opportunity to present the UNESCO Policy brief on Multilingualism and
language diversity for inclusion in education. It is a UNESCO input to the implementation of the
International Decade of Indigenous Languages and the education of Indigenous peoples, among other
initiatives such as the UNESCO/Purdue University (USA) Massive Open Online Courses on Indigenous
Languages: From Policy and Planning to Implementation and Assessment.
More specifically, International Mother Language Day 2024 will highlight the need to implement a
multilingual education policy and practice so that all children benefit from quality and inclusive
education and develop their cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The celebration aims towards the
prioritization of multilingual education based on mother languages in different contexts; the promotion
of the knowledge held by Indigenous peoples within the archives of Indigenous languages and through
the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022–2032); and the understanding of the
importance of language education in intercultural dialogue.
Target audiences
• Key stakeholders in education, including policy-makers and teachers.
• Non-governmental organizations, foundations and other bodies supporting multilingualism and
multilingual education, and cultural and linguistic diversity.
Format and languages
The event will include an official opening and two panels on 1) Multilingual education as a key
component of quality learning; and 2) Multilingual education as a pillar of intergenerational learning.
3
Multilingual education
IMLD 2024
Experts in language education, in literacy and non-formal or informal learning and intergenerational
learning, as well as in Indigenous languages, will make presentations and debate on the challenges and
opportunities of multilingual education in multilingual contexts and in crisis and emergency situations.
The event will take place from 9.30 am to 1 pm in Room IV, UNESCO House (7 Place de Fontenoy
75007).
Simultaneous interpretation will be available in English, French and Spanish.
Contacts
UNESCO
Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality, Division for Education 2030, Education Sector:
Ms Noro Andriamiseza: n.andriamiseza@unesco.org
Ms Sandrine Baron: s.baron@unesco.org
In partnership with
Provisional Agenda
Tuesday, 21 February 2024
Multilingual education: a pillar of intergenerational learning
9:30 – 10:00 Welcoming coffee
10:00 – 10:30 Official opening
Master of Ceremony: Ms Min Jeong Kim, Director, Division for Education 2030,
UNESCO
Welcoming remarks: Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for
Education, UNESCO
Introductory remarks
➢ H.E. Mr Khondker M. Talha, Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary to France, Permanent Delegate of Bangladesh to
UNESCO
➢ H.E. Mr Halvor Hvideberg, Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary, Permanent Delegate of Norway to UNESCO
➢ Ms Nivine Khaled, Director, French Language and Diversity of the
Francophone Cultures, International Organization of la Francophonie
10:30 – 11:45 Theme 1: Multilingual education based on mother tongue, a key component of
quality learning
Moderator: Mr Carlos Vargas, Chief of the Section for Teacher Development
UNESCO
4
Multilingual education
IMLD 2024
Panelists:
➢ Mr Shannon Bischoff, Professor of Linguistics, Three Rivers Language
Center, Purdue University - Fort Wayne, United States of America
➢ Mr Mohammed Ayman Sadiq, Educator and Founder of the “10 Minute
School”, Bangladesh
➢ Ms Isabelle Cros, Primary School Teacher “Teaching languages and
cultures”, LPL, Inspé, Aix-Marseille University, France
➢ Ms Noro Andriamiseza, Programme Specialist, UNESCO
➢ Mr Stephen Bestbier, Government Partnerships Manager, Snapplify
Project, South Africa
Dialogue with the audience
Video 1: That moment you achieve your lifelong dream, UNESCO
11:45 – 12:55 Theme 2: Multilingual education, a pillar of intergenerational learning
Moderator: Ms Rokhaya Diawara, Programme Specialist, UNESCO
Panelists:
➢ Ms Mariam Wetter Aboubakrine, Chair, Tinhinan Association
➢ Ms Hanieh Moghani, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (video
message)
➢ Ms Anna Stevanato, Founder and Director, D’une langue à l’autre
(DULALA) Association, France with Ms Mariam Fride Doucouré and Ms
Alice le Marchand
➢ Ms Dieneke Blikslager, vice Principal of the St. Janschool, Amsterdam
(Kingdom of the Netherlands) and Ms Ellen-Rose Kambel Executive
Director, Rutu Foundation for Intercultural Multilingual Education
Video 2 Ancestral systems of knowledge of the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogui;
Yosokwi, Colombia.
Dialogue with the audience
12:55 – 13:00 Closing remarks: Ms Justine Sass, Chief of the Section of Education for Inclusion
and Gender Equality, Division for Education 2030, UNESCO
Entrance : 125 Avenue de Suffren, 75015 Paris.

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Multilingual Education, a pillar for inter-generational learning.

  • 1. 1 Multilingual education IMLD 2024 Background UNESCO has consistently highlighted the role of multilingual education based on the first language, also called mother language or home language, on annual International Mother Language Day celebrations. The mismatch between home language(s) and school languages has long negatively impacted education systems in all regions of the world. For decades, the exclusive use of dominant languages for instruction has been criticized as affecting the quality of teaching. It has also impaired the validity of learning assessments, and more broadly impacted learners’ future opportunities for education and work. As many scholars have pointed out, simply using a foreign language as a medium of instruction does not guarantee effective learning of that language. Current global situation The disruption of learning during COVID-19 school closures has put a massive strain on learning. Before the pandemic, 57 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries could not read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school (World Bank et al., with UNESCO, 2022). In 2022, this figure rose to 70 percent. In some countries, over 90 percent of students are not taught in a language they speak and understand (World Bank, 2023). Poor learning outcomes may be a reflection of inadequate language of instruction policies. International Mother Language Day 2024 Multilingual education: A pillar of intergenerational learning 21 February 2024 9:30 am – 1 pm (CET) Room IV, UNESCO HQ MDV Edwards/Shutterstock.com
  • 2. 2 Multilingual education IMLD 2024 Why multilingual education matters International Mother Language Day 2024 is an opportunity to remind the international community that multilingual education enhances learning when the language of instruction is the learner’s first language. The use of learners’ own languages for literacy and learning provides a solid pillar for education, and for transfer of skills and knowledge to additional languages. Learning in one’s first language facilitates understanding and interaction, and further develops critical thinking. It strengthens self-confidence and self-esteem and stimulates active participation. In addition to boosting learning, multilingual education contributes to opening the doors to intergenerational learning, the preservation of culture and intangible heritage, and the revitalization of languages. It enriches multilingualism on the web and is essential for digital literacy. Multilingual education also helps in acquiring life skills, especially in the context of emergencies, crises and natural disasters. Thus, refugees, internally or internationally displaced people and those excluded or marginalized from quality education, such as Indigenous peoples, are not left behind. International Mother Language Day 2024 The theme of International Mother Language Day celebration 2024 is “Multilingual education is a pillar of intergenerational learning”. Today, 250 million children and young people still do not attend school and 763 million adults do not master basic literacy skills. Mother tongue education supports learning, literacy and the acquisition of additional languages. Objectives International Mother Language Day 2024 aims to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on inclusive quality education and lifelong learning and of the objectives of the International Decade on Indigenous Languages (2022-2032). The event will also be the opportunity to present the UNESCO Policy brief on Multilingualism and language diversity for inclusion in education. It is a UNESCO input to the implementation of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages and the education of Indigenous peoples, among other initiatives such as the UNESCO/Purdue University (USA) Massive Open Online Courses on Indigenous Languages: From Policy and Planning to Implementation and Assessment. More specifically, International Mother Language Day 2024 will highlight the need to implement a multilingual education policy and practice so that all children benefit from quality and inclusive education and develop their cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The celebration aims towards the prioritization of multilingual education based on mother languages in different contexts; the promotion of the knowledge held by Indigenous peoples within the archives of Indigenous languages and through the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022–2032); and the understanding of the importance of language education in intercultural dialogue. Target audiences • Key stakeholders in education, including policy-makers and teachers. • Non-governmental organizations, foundations and other bodies supporting multilingualism and multilingual education, and cultural and linguistic diversity. Format and languages The event will include an official opening and two panels on 1) Multilingual education as a key component of quality learning; and 2) Multilingual education as a pillar of intergenerational learning.
  • 3. 3 Multilingual education IMLD 2024 Experts in language education, in literacy and non-formal or informal learning and intergenerational learning, as well as in Indigenous languages, will make presentations and debate on the challenges and opportunities of multilingual education in multilingual contexts and in crisis and emergency situations. The event will take place from 9.30 am to 1 pm in Room IV, UNESCO House (7 Place de Fontenoy 75007). Simultaneous interpretation will be available in English, French and Spanish. Contacts UNESCO Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality, Division for Education 2030, Education Sector: Ms Noro Andriamiseza: n.andriamiseza@unesco.org Ms Sandrine Baron: s.baron@unesco.org In partnership with Provisional Agenda Tuesday, 21 February 2024 Multilingual education: a pillar of intergenerational learning 9:30 – 10:00 Welcoming coffee 10:00 – 10:30 Official opening Master of Ceremony: Ms Min Jeong Kim, Director, Division for Education 2030, UNESCO Welcoming remarks: Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO Introductory remarks ➢ H.E. Mr Khondker M. Talha, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France, Permanent Delegate of Bangladesh to UNESCO ➢ H.E. Mr Halvor Hvideberg, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Delegate of Norway to UNESCO ➢ Ms Nivine Khaled, Director, French Language and Diversity of the Francophone Cultures, International Organization of la Francophonie 10:30 – 11:45 Theme 1: Multilingual education based on mother tongue, a key component of quality learning Moderator: Mr Carlos Vargas, Chief of the Section for Teacher Development UNESCO
  • 4. 4 Multilingual education IMLD 2024 Panelists: ➢ Mr Shannon Bischoff, Professor of Linguistics, Three Rivers Language Center, Purdue University - Fort Wayne, United States of America ➢ Mr Mohammed Ayman Sadiq, Educator and Founder of the “10 Minute School”, Bangladesh ➢ Ms Isabelle Cros, Primary School Teacher “Teaching languages and cultures”, LPL, Inspé, Aix-Marseille University, France ➢ Ms Noro Andriamiseza, Programme Specialist, UNESCO ➢ Mr Stephen Bestbier, Government Partnerships Manager, Snapplify Project, South Africa Dialogue with the audience Video 1: That moment you achieve your lifelong dream, UNESCO 11:45 – 12:55 Theme 2: Multilingual education, a pillar of intergenerational learning Moderator: Ms Rokhaya Diawara, Programme Specialist, UNESCO Panelists: ➢ Ms Mariam Wetter Aboubakrine, Chair, Tinhinan Association ➢ Ms Hanieh Moghani, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (video message) ➢ Ms Anna Stevanato, Founder and Director, D’une langue à l’autre (DULALA) Association, France with Ms Mariam Fride Doucouré and Ms Alice le Marchand ➢ Ms Dieneke Blikslager, vice Principal of the St. Janschool, Amsterdam (Kingdom of the Netherlands) and Ms Ellen-Rose Kambel Executive Director, Rutu Foundation for Intercultural Multilingual Education Video 2 Ancestral systems of knowledge of the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogui; Yosokwi, Colombia. Dialogue with the audience 12:55 – 13:00 Closing remarks: Ms Justine Sass, Chief of the Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality, Division for Education 2030, UNESCO Entrance : 125 Avenue de Suffren, 75015 Paris.