Happy International Mother Language Day from CODE

February 21, 2012

February 21st marks International Mother Language Day. Created by UNESCO, International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The concept of instruction in the mother language, especially in early primary grades, is an important element of CODE’s programming in developing countries and our comprehensive literacy model known as Reading CODE.  When children learn to read and write with materials written in the language in which they are most comfortable, it helps them to master fundamental literacy skills. It can also enhance the opportunities for families to become involved in the learning process  as they understand the language of instruction. CODE contributes to mother language instruction by supplying schools and community libraries with books written in local languages that relate directly to children’s own experiences. CODE works with local authors, illustrators, editors and publishers to produce children’s books and other reading materials in more than 20 languages.

A successful transition from mother tongue instruction —which, for many African countries, is required for late elementary school and high school — is also an objective of CODE’s programs in many of the countries where we work.  In Mozambique, for example, the Promotion of a Literate Environment in Mozambique (PLEM) project, has supported the development and implementation of the Bilingual Education Program in Portuguese and five local languages. So far, this program has developed more than 260,000 bilingual textbooks for Grades 1 to 7.  PLEM has also provided training and skills development for more than 3,000 trainers and teachers on how to facilitate the transition from the mother language to Portuguese. This has been done through workshops, practical sessions and, more recently, through direct training at the teacher training institutes.

This is but one example of how mother language instruction is integrated into CODE’s international programs. On behalf of all of us at CODE, happy International Mother Language Day!