The UN educational and cultural agency, Unesco, has encouraged people everywhere to celebrate world's diversity by supporting multilingualism at school and in everyday life -- the theme for International Mother Language Day, observed today.
The focus this year is on inclusion, both in the classroom and in society.
"This is essential, because when 40 percent of the world's inhabitants do not have access to education in language they speak or understand best, it hinders their learning, as well as their access to heritage and cultural expressions," Unesco chief Audrey Azoulay said in her message marking the day.
This year, special attention is being paid to multilingual education from early childhood, so that for children, their mother tongue is always an asset, she added.
Azoulay said many of the 1.5 billion students worldwide unable to attend school at the peak of the crisis had no access to distance learning.
PRESERVING A COMMON HERITAGE
She said, "For when a language dies, a way of seeing, feeling and thinking the world disappears, and all of cultural diversity is irretrievably diminished," she said.
On this International Day, Unesco therefore calls for the celebration of the world in all its diversity, and support for multilingualism in everyday life, she added.