CE International Celebrates Launch of International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Girl smiling at the camera

Today, UNESCO is launching the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 

At Childhood Education International, we are enthusiastic about this important recognition of indigenous languages and the actions being taken to raise awareness and foster international cooperation to ensure support and protection for indigenous languages. 

Grounding young children in their home languages is critical to language development and literacy skills, and support for indigenous languages is critical to ensuring equitable and inclusive access for all children and families.

Parents, caregivers, and teachers speak to children in their home language from the time they are born, and this helps their young brains develop, connects them to their culture and customs, and prepares them for success in school and beyond. 

Today many languages of indigenous peoples are at risk of disappearing. More than 40 percent of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world are threatened with extinction. Most of the threatened languages are indigenous languages, and this puts the cultures and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk and places children’s foundational learning at risk as well.

In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the period of 2022-2032 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, based on a recommendation by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The proclamation of the IDIL 2022-2032 is a key outcome of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019). 

We must build on good practices and lessons learned and work to promote and protect indigenous languages and improve the lives of those who speak them. The International Decade will contribute to achieving the objectives set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

We are hopeful that the attention given to this issue will highlight the importance of indigenous languages and the key role that all home languages play in the optimal development and learning of young children.