UNESCO warns on extinction of languages

Channels Television  
Updated February 21, 2012

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization warned today that nearly half of the approximately 6,000 languages spoken in the world could die out by the end of the century.

In a message titled, “A world without words? Celebrating International Mother Language Day,” UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, said the projection was a frightening one, with 96 percent of these languages spoken by a mere four per cent of the world’s population.

The director general urged the peoples of the world to do their best to protect languages from going extinct, noting “Languages are who we are. By protecting them, we protect ourselves.”

Ms Bokova also said UNESCO had recognized multilingualism as a key tool in promoting quality education and inclusion and fighting against discrimination.

“There is a growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in strengthening cooperation, building inclusive knowledge societies, preserving cultural heritage and providing quality education for all.

“This year’s celebration is dedicated to multilingualism for inclusive education: “Learning in a language they can understand is vital for children to enjoy their right to quality education. Mother Tongue and Multilingual Education are key to reducing discrimination, promoting inclusion and improving learning outcomes for all,” Bokova said.