You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) using Archive-It. This page was captured on 01:21:08 Apr 01, 2022, and is part of the UNESCO collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page.
Loading media information hide

Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education

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.


What is multilingual education?

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
  • It enhances dialogue and interaction between learner and teacher by allowing genuine communication from the beginning.
  • It facilitates participation and action in society and gives access to new knowledge and cultural expressions, thus ensuring a harmonious interaction between the global and the local.


  • Message from UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova
    AR - CH - EN - FR - RU - ES



11:00-12:30 - Presentations and discussions

  • Multilingual education and literacy. 50 years of Literacy day: what impact on mother tongue education?
  • Access to Education in Primary Language: Human Rights and Discrimination. Perspectives for Linguistic Diversity in the Francophone countries
  • Biodiversity and Linguadiversity for sustainable futures
  • Multilingualism as an asset for learning to better live together

16:00-19:00 - Interactive Session

Follow Us!


Related information

In partnership with