27 February 2017 | 1:17 pm.

To promote sustainable development, students must have access to education in their mother tongue and other languages. Mastery of the first language allows acquiring the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on February 21, 2017 under the theme ‘Towards a sustainable future through multilingual education’. The Sustainable Development Goal 4 focuses on quality education and lifelong learning for all, so that every woman and man can acquire the skills, knowledge and values necessary to become all that they want to be and fully participate in society.

In UNESCO’s Education Action Plan 2030, full respect for the use of mother tongue in teaching and learning is encouraged, as well as the promotion and preservation of linguistic diversity.

Local languages, especially minority and indigenous languages transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, said: “On the occasion of this Day, I launch an appeal for the potential of multilingual education to be acknowledged everywhere, in education and administrative systems, in cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade.”

Multilingualism is essential to achieve these objectives and to achieve the goals set in the Agenda 2030 as a whole, from growth, employment and health to sustainable consumption and production, and climate change.

The use of mother tongues is an essential component of quality education, which is the basis for empowering women and men and their societies. We must recognize and promote this potential for not to leaving anyone behind and build a more just and sustainable future for all.

More than 50 percent of the nearly 7,000 languages spoken in the world are likely to disappear in a few generations, and 96 percent of these are the spoken language of just 4 percent of the world’s population. Only a few hundred languages have had the privilege of joining educational systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.

Carlos Slim Foundation recognizes the importance of education for the integral development of a nation. Each year our programs contribute through granting diverse inputs, training of students, supporting them from their first years of life to postgraduate studies. We are committed to create a free, healthy, just and prosperous society.

Among other activities, Carlos Slim Foundation supports the integral formation of human capital through programs that strengthen the capacities and skills of people of all ages in Mexico and Latin America, so that they can actively participate in economic and social development, achieving more and better opportunities and better quality of life.