UNESCO-IICBA co-hosted the International Mother Language Day celebration at the UN Conference Centre in cooperation with the Embassy of Bangladesh and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
Addis Ababa, February 21, 2022
Addis Ababa, February 21, 2022 – UNESCO-IICBA co-hosted the International Mother Language Day celebration at the UN Conference Centre in cooperation with the Embassy of Bangladesh and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
H.E. Ambassador Nazrul Islam of Bangladesh explained the origin of International Mother Language Day and the role Bangladesh played. As opening remarks, Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO IICBA, delivered the message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, celebrating linguistic diversity as a common good. She highlighted the fact that “worldwide, four out of ten students do not have access to education in their mother tongue” and “as a result, the foundation for their learning is more fragile.” As emphasized by Professor Derib Ado from Addis Ababa University, a number of studies have shown that children learn better in their mother languages, and mother tongue is indeed the foundation of learning. It is even more relevant in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. With school closure and social distancing policies in place, the use of different forms of distance learning methodologies and technological tools has been widely encouraged for the past two years. While there are a lot of opportunities in the use of technologies in multilingual education, it is also important to beware that certain languages tend to be prioritized over others and it potentially undermines access to and quality of learning, as it does in the world generally. In such a context, this year’s theme for International Mother Language Day was chosen to be “Using technology for multilingual learning: challenges and opportunities.” Notably, the idea behind this day should be particularly significant in Africa, where linguistic and cultural diversity is extremely rich and to be preserved.
The event featured powerful speeches and impressive contributions from representatives of the organizers, guest speakers and local and international students. The venue was filled with the spirit of multiculturalism and multilingualism with appreciation of diverse languages in the world.