Education for sustainable development – preserving linguistic and cultural diversity
International Mother Language Day (21 February) is the opportunity to show the vital role of education for sustainable development in the preservation and promotion of mother tongues. Among the 6,000 languages and dialects of the world, 50 percent of them are threatened.
A language disappears on average every two weeks, carrying with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. The protection of linguistic diversity is a challenge for sustainable development. Languages convey knowledge and local know-how, they are an irreplaceable tool for sustainability.
The decrease in the number of speakers holders of traditional knowledge has a direct effect on the environment. Thus, linguistic diversity is the refection of natural diversity. These two values ensure the prosperity of present and future generations and the advent of sustainable development. Traditionally, education for sustainable development places the promotion of mother tongues as a priority in its objectives with the fight against illiteracy.
CARE is an international humanitarian organization fighting for all children everywhere to have access to quality education to gain confidence and skills they will need throughout their lives. In Peru, a large percentage of the population speaks Quechua or Aymara as their mother tongue, yet the teaching is still done in Spanish. Primary school children face difficulties to learn how to read and communicate, and those who manage to finish primary school does not generally have acquired basic Spanish skills in reading, writing texts, and mathematical reasoning.
In the department of Puno in Peru, CARE has established classrooms equipped with materials for learning Spanish as a second language and teacher training for intercultural and bilingual education as required by Peruvian reality. In addition, awareness and information workshops are organized for local authorities, heads of families and representatives of civil society, on the importance of bilingual education including exchange of experiences with professors from other departments or neighboring areas.
In Peru like all around the world, education for sustainable development contributes to preserve mother languages.