International Mother Language Day 2013


Books for mother tongue education

In 1999, UNESCO decided to launch an International Mother Language Day (IMLD) to be observed throughout the world each year on 21 February.

This celebration is designed to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education, to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education.

Multilingualism is a source of strength and opportunity for humanity. It embodies our cultural diversity and encourages the exchange of views, the renewal of ideas and the broadening of our capacity to imagine. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General

Linguistic and cultural diversity represent universal values that strengthen the unity and cohesion of societies. That is why UNESCO’s Director-General, in launching IMLD 2013, will reinforce the importance of this core message and specifically highlight this year’s theme of access to books and digital media in local languages.

UNESCO’s Member States worldwide are key actors in the promotion of mother tongues through their national institutions and associations. The media, schools, universities and cultural associations play an active part in promoting the IMLD goals.

Using the slogan “Books for Mother tongue education”, IMLD 2013 aims to remind key stakeholders in education that in order to to support mother tongue education, it is essential to support the production of books in local languages.


The importance of written materials in mother tongues

Mother tongue education in its broader sense refers to the use of mother tongues in the home environment and in schools. Language acquisition and mother tongue literacy should ideally be supported by written resources such as – but not limited to – books, primers and textbooks, to support oral activities. Written materials in mother tongues reinforce learners’ literacy acquisition and build strong foundations for learning.

Today, a great number of languages lack a written form, yet progress has been made in developing orthography. Local and international linguists, educationalists, teachers work together with for example Indigenous peoples in Latin America, or tribes in Asia to develop orthography. The use of computers to produce books and the relatively low cost of digital printing are promising ways to produce cheaper written materials to enable wider access

Mother tongue education

UNESCO advocates for mother tongue instruction in a bilingual or multilingual education approach in the early years because of its importance in creating a strong foundation for learning: the use mother tongue with young children at home or in pre-school prepares them for the smooth acquisition of literacy in their mother tongue and eventually, the acquisition of the second (perhaps national) language at a later stage in their schooling.

UNESCO defines bilingual and multilingual education as “ the use of two or more languages as mediums of instruction. The Organization adopted the term ‘multilingual education’ in 1999 to refer to the use of at least three languages in education: the mother tongue; a regional or national language and an international language.

The importance of mother tongue instruction in the early years of schooling is emphasized in the findings of studies, research and reports such as the annual UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report.


UNESCO is launching the IMLD celebration 2013 with an event at its Paris Headquarters on the theme of the Day: “Mother tongues and books – including digital books and textbooks”. Experts in languages will highlight the contribution of mother tongues to the promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity, and the development of intercultural education through , for example, digital archives of the world languages.

UNESCO will participate in a round table at the University of Evry (France), where the findings of a study, “What languages do students from the University of Evry speak?”, will be presented. University professors, students and linguists will address issues concerning languages and education. UNESCO will present its position on mother tongue instruction in a bilingual or multilingual education approach.

IMLD 2013 is linked to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). UNESCO is organizing a session on cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content at WSIS on 26 February. The objective is to increase access to local educational content and related knowledge and information through the use of local languages in digital textbooks.

– See more at:


Building a culture of resilience

Resilience , as a term used in education, has been around some time, but now it is becoming a more broadly used term –

explore more by reading the report:

Building a Culture of Resilience
In late 2011/early 2012, the UNICEF Regional Office (ESARO) conducted an evaluation of the capacity building training and institutionalisation programme undertaken in the Eastern and Southern Africa region since 2009 with its partner organization, Save the Children (SC). The national capacity development was a component of the global Education in Emergencies and Post-crisis Transition (EEPCT) Programme funded by the Government of the Netherlands and the European Commission. This evaluation sought to assess the knowledge and practices of the training participants in order to provide a comprehensive account of the impact of the UNICEF/SC capacity building strategy. It also explored the level of institutionalisation of EPR/DRR practices into education sector policy and planning at the national and sub-national levels. Finally, capacity gaps and challenges to institutionalisation efforts were identified, principal lessons learned were outlined, and corresponding mitigating actions were recommended.To read the full report, click here.

Protecting Education in Countries Affected by Conflict – Resource Pack

From INEE newsletter:

Protecting Education in Countries Affected by Conflict Resource Pack
Global Education Cluster The Protecting Education in Conflict-Affected Countries Initiative focusses on providing guidance and resources to field practitioners on critical issues such as protecting education from attack, education for peace-building, monitoring and reporting of violations and rights and accountabilities. The resources should be used alongside the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery which provide a framework for a good quality education response in emergencies.

Opportunities to share feedback and get further information on the materials and project will soon be available via the Education Cluster website.

Visit the Education Cluster website to download these materials. To order hard copies of these booklets and accompanying materials, please contact the Education Cluster Unit at

Teacher Professional Development in Crisis

Anyone who has taught and also trained realises that one off workshops rarely have any impact. Luckily we are now in a position to question  this model and  consider a wide variety of alternative ways of learning.

Get engaged…..



Teacher Professional Development in Crisis. This discussion series addresses the poor quality of professional development provided to many teachers across the globe. It will include guest contributions by internationally recognized experts, practitioners, teachers and specialists in professional development from Europe, Asia, Africa, the United States, and the Middle East.The goal of this forum is to gather promising ideas and practices to initiate a body of knowledge and consensus of “what works”. This information may be useful to those who design, fund, and implement teacher professional development programs—particularly in the most fragile and under-resourced locations.

Each Monday (for 12 weeks from February to April) a guest author will post on a specific issue related to teacher professional development. The online post will then be open for your personal views and responses, and for participation in the ensuing discussions. The first discussion, entitled Teacher Professional Development in Crisis – How can we begin to move forward? is now open.