Children in Iran reading in their mother tongue

©UNESCO/Roger Dominique
Children in Iran reading in their mother tongue

Three principles guide UNESCO’s approach to languages and education in the twenty-first century. These are:

- Mother tongue instruction to promote inclusion in education and improve the quality of education by building on the knowledge and experience of both learners and teachers. UNESCO believes and supports findings of studies showing evidence that mother tongue instruction is a key factor for literacy and learning.

- Bilingual and/or multilingual education at all levels, to promote equality and reflect the diversity of languages in society, including literate environments, media and cyberspace. The main objective is to promote at least the use of three languages in education
in multilingual contexts.

- Promoting language as an essential part of intercultural education, to encourage understanding among peoples and build respect for human rights.

Related links

UNESCO’s strategy for languages and multilingualism
The UNESCO strategy builds on the recognition of languages and multilingualism as cornerstones of the world’s cultural diversity and essential conditions for sustainable development in all environments, including cyberspace, education systems, cultural expressions and exchanges at international, regional and national levels.

Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
Respect of mother tongue use in education is part of the Declaration’s Plan of Action (Articles 6 and 7, page 15).

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