Posts Tagged ‘UNESCO’

International Mother Language Day 2017

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 by Alfred

February 21st is the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) International Mother Language Day.

It is a day to celebrate the diversity of languages around the world and to communicate the importance of valuing and protecting mother languages as being a vital part of culture.

The Director General of UNESCO reminds us of the personal and cultural importance of the mother languages:

‘The mother language, in which the first words are uttered and individual thought expressed, is the foundation for the history and culture of each individual…. Languages are the best vehicles of mutual understanding and tolerance. Respect for all languages is a key factor for ensuring peaceful coexistence, without exclusion, of societies and all of their members.’

UNESCO also notes the importance of mother languages in education:

‘Children who start off learning to read and write in their mother language do better in school. Literacy programmes in mother languages bring learners the self-confidence they need to participate in their community and make informed choices.’

The work Wycliffe Bible Translators does is part of preserving mother languages around the world, not for the sake of language alone, but so communities can know that God values them, and values their languages, as they are. Language should be a way of coming to God, not a barrier hindering people.

Wycliffe works not only to translate the Bible, but to develop writing systems in language groups that have never been written, to encourage literacy and to help communities with health care, agricultural information and learning their human rights.

Wycliffe is working on behalf of minority language groups worldwide; to provide God’s word in the mother tongue of every remaining language group that needs it.

Find out more about Wycliffe’s work and how you can support it.

International Literacy Day

Monday, September 8th, 2014 by Ruth

For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day, reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.  This video from UNESCO South Sudan gives a profoundly touching insight into the struggles of a nation facing staggering illiteracy rates.

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The South Sudanese have suffered the deep disruption of war, resulting in closed or destroyed schools and a generation of children left illiterate in its wake.  Add to that the challenges of educating nomadic communities, constantly on the move in pursuit of grazing land. Yet there is no doubt that leaders in South Sudan see literacy as key to bringing peace and hope to their nation.

For the illiterate now – many of whom are ex-combatants – job opportunities are extremely limited.  As one man remarked of violence still prevalent within South Sudan,

‘A hungry man is an angry man.’

Yet teacher Jacob Oruru and many others like him believe literacy is the answer.

‘Literacy helps to reduce violence… because once you are literate, you know what is good and what is bad.’

All the more so when Scripture becomes available in the mother tongue, as Wycliffe and partner organisations work with local translators worldwide to develop minority languages, creating alphabets, dictionaries, health and educational materials.  Ultimately the New Testament or entire Bible becomes available in a way that communities can understand, and in a way that transforms hearts and minds.

International Mother Language Day 2013

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 by Hannah

February 21st is Unesco’s International Mother Language Day. It is a day to celebrate the diversity of languages around the world and to communicate the importance of valuing and protecting mother languages, as a valuable part of culture.

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‘Children who start off learning to read and write in their mother language do better in school. Literacy programmes in mother languages bring learners the self-confidence they need to participate in their community and make informed choices.’

Unesco International Mother Language day posterThe work Wycliffe does is part of this aim to preserve mother languages around the world, not for the sake of language alone, but so communities can know that God values them, and values their languages, as they are. Language should be a way of coming to God, not a barrier hindering people.

Wycliffe works not only to translate the Bible, but to develop writing systems in language groups that have never been written, to encourage literacy and orality programmes, and to help communities with health care, agricultural information and learning their human rights.

Watch this video to find out more about how Bible translation is a key to serving language communities.

International Literacy Day

Saturday, September 8th, 2012 by Hannah

Happy International Literacy Day! Every year since 1966, 8th September has been Unesco’s day of literacy celebrations. Literacy can bring incredible changes in the way people live, but it is not a change that everyone can access.

In the world today, more than 700 million adults are not ‘functionally literate’, meaning that they cannot read or write in a way that is useful to their day-to-day lives. The majority of these 700 million people live in poorer countries and most are women. A further 60 million children are not receiving the basic primary education they need to grow up literate.

Literacy enables growth both in the here-and-now and in spiritual terms. Learning to read breaks down barriers, whether they are barriers to God’s word, barriers to education, barriers to health information, barriers to church, or barriers to work. In a very real way, literacy can save lives. And many people are longing to learn the skills we take for granted:

‘What is written stays with us; what is spoken is soon lost. Being able to read and write has made it possible for me to preserve the history of my ancestors that my grandmother told to me. There are many Kasem people before me who have forgotten the stories of their background. But I am very thankful that I can now read and write in my language and I can write these stories down for our children to read.’ A Kasem literacy team work, Burkina Faso.

Wycliffe works with communities and language groups from the very start, helping with the development of writing systems for never-before-written languages, and cooperating in producing literacy programmes, training and material for communities.

You can find out more about the celebrations that Unesco are having on their website.

If you think you could help to improve people’s lives through literacy, have a look at the roles that might suit you working with Wycliffe.

Celebrating 50 years

Thursday, April 12th, 2012 by Hannah

It’s a year of celebrations and jubilees, not just in the UK but all around the world. Earlier in the year we wrote about the work of CABTAL, a Cameroonian Wycliffe organisation, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Now, GILLBT, Ghana’s leading language development organisation, are celebrating their Golden Jubilee – 50 years of language work in Ghana.

GILLBT (the Ghana Institute for Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation) was established by John Bendor-Samuel (the founder of Wycliffe’s work in the UK) in 1962. Since then, GILLBT’s work has had a significant impact across the country. With partners, they have:

  • produced dictionaries and writing systems in over 30 languages
  • helped more than 500,000 people learn to read and write
  • produced over 1,000 booklets in local languages on subjects including agriculture and health information
  • translated Ghana’s abridged constitution into 30 languages
  • been awarded the UNESCO Nassim Habif award for their work developing literacy work
  • translated the complete Bible into five languages and the New Testament into 23 (read more at gillbt.org/translation).

In 2006, a Wycliffe UK and GILLBT member Mary Steele was awarded an MBE by the Queen for her work in Ghana.

A traditional Ghanaian dance at the Jubilee Celebrations

This year, their 50th anniversary, will see launches of two more complete Bibles. GILLBT are also hosting a series of celebratory events including conferences on literacy and Bible translation across Africa. Right now they are starting a new conference on Language, Culture and Development.

GILLBT are one of 100 organisations that make up the Wycliffe Global Alliance, organisations that work in different places around the world to help people hear God’s word in their own languages. You can be involved.

Love your language: International Mother Language Day

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by Hannah

Today – February 21st – is Unesco’s International Mother Language Day. It’s a day to celebrate the linguistic diversity and richness of the nearly-7,000 languages spoken around the world.

The Martyrs Memorial at Dhaka University, commorating the 1952 protests.

The day has been celebrated since a UN resolution in 1999, but the history goes back much further. In 1949, Urdu was declared the national language in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Bangla (Bengali) speakers, eager to maintain their own linguistic identity, protested. Mother Language Day’s date comes from the crisis point reached on February 21st 1952, when students involved in a protest were killed by police. Their deaths are remembered in Bangladesh on this day every year.

Bengali is now one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. But many languages communities, whose languages are not used as widely, still suffer discrimination and oppression. International Mother Language Day calls for respect for all languages:

‘Mother languages, along with linguistic diversity, matter for the identity of individuals. As sources of creativity and vehicles for cultural expression, they are also important for the health of societies…. Mother language instruction is a powerful way to fight discrimination.’ Unesco Director-General speaking last year.

Photo from Unesco

This year’s theme for the day is mother-tongue education.  Most people can’t learn to read and write in a language they don’t know; not providing education first in the mother-tongue before in secondary languages prohibits many people – usually those speaking minority languages – from advancing in literacy and other education.

People’s heart languages are central to culture, community, education and identity. All Wycliffe’s work seeks to promote the use and love of people’s own language, whether through Bible translation, literacy work, mother-tongue education programmes or encouraging use of the Scriptures in the mother-tongue.

We want to celebrate mother languages in practical ways. Find out how you could join Wycliffe in supporting minority languages around the world.

UNESCO International Mother Language Day

Monday, February 21st, 2011 by Hannah

On 21 February, UNESCO celebrate mother-tongue languages around the world.  The date commemorates the death of two Bangla speakers, who, in 1952, were shot by police for protesting for national recognition of their mother tongue.

Bangla (or Bengali) is now the primary language of Bangladesh.  The continued use of the mother tongue even when Bangla speakers were a minority before independence, helped to preserve culture and heritage of the people.

But unlike Bengali, many mother-tongue languages are spoken by linguistic minorities; because they don’t speak a majority language, speakers of minority languages often don’t receive the same respect and don’t have access to education in their mother-tongue.

The Director General of UNESCO reminds us of the personal and cultural importance of the mother languages:

“The mother language, in which the first words are uttered and individual thought expressed, is the foundation for the history and culture of each individual…. Languages are the best vehicles of mutual understanding and tolerance. Respect for all languages is a key factor for ensuring peaceful coexistence, without exclusion, of societies and all of their members.”

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe in the importance of mother-tongue languages.  The work of Bible translation is inextricably connected to language development and literacy, helping to preserve languages and protecting the cultures of minority language groups.

Celebrate mother tongue languages by finding out how you can give the Bible to someone in their mother-tongue.