International Mother Language Day 2017

Photo by Sumitomo Chemical.

Imagine the most difficult subjects you learned in school. Now imagine trying to master those skills in a language you don’t understand. For too many children around the world, access to education in their mother language is not available—crucially impacting their ability to learn and keep up in school.

Yesterday, International Mother Language Day celebrated linguistic and cultural diversity around the world. This year’s theme was “Towards Sustainable Futures Through Multilingual Education.” According to the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they understand.

However, the influential report The Learning Generation, released by the International Commission on Financing Education Opportunity last September, identifies education in a child’s mother language as an efficient and cost-effective intervention that could significantly reduce global learning gaps.

GBC-Education’s #Tech4Ed Global Education Platform explored the potential of technology to close the global skills gap through the YourStoryIndia Pilot project to support the creation of learning content in local languages. In partnership with Wattpad, Twitter India, HP and others, the pilot project fostered the creation of 230,000 user-generated stories in local languages to promote literacy.

Business can invest in multilingual education by providing support for the creation, translation, and dissemination of learning materials in local languages. For example, GBC-Education member Sumitomo Chemical has provided mathematics education materials translated into the local language, Tetun, to primary school students in Dili, Timor-Leste since 2015.