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Literacy, Multilingual Education & Learning in Mother Tongue

Literacy is defined as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with diverse contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, develop their knowledge and potential and participate fully in community and society.


“Women still account for almost two-thirds of all adults
unable to read – 515 million of them lack basic reading skills.”

A person is defined as ‘functionally literate’ when they can engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of their group and community and also for enabling them to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for their own and the community’s development’. Up to 50% of children in Asia-Pacific Region are unable to read and understand a simple sentence by the age 10.

Learning in the mother tongue is vital, especially in primary school, to avoid knowledge gaps and increase the speed of learning and comprehension. SDG 4 thematic indicator 4.5.2. measures the share of students whose first or home language is used in education as a language of instruction. Currently, almost 40% of children don’t get education with language they understand.

“In India’s Odisha state, multilingual education covered about 1,500 primary schools and 21 tribal languages of instruction.

Just 41 countries worldwide recognize sign 18 language as an official language, of which 21 are in the European Union.

(GEM 2020)

In this page, the will be materials related to multilingual education, education on mother tongue, literacy and language education. Please share your best resources to fellow educators and educational leaders with us!

Practical tool for supporting literacy and reading is LearnBig App, which offers free access to books and teaching materials in Thai, Burmese, Karen and Malay.

A ‘million word gap’ for children who aren’t read to at home

Supporting English learners: What do teachers need?

In Asia-pacific, Indigenous Languages Help Safeguard Knowledge And Culture

How educators are using indigenous languages and knowledge to combat children’s declining language skills and

Revitalizing Indigenous Languages Is Critical

Study Calls For Educating Children In Their Mother Tongue

Mon State Schools To Offer Classes In Mon Language During Regular Hours

Mon Lead The Way In Mother Tongue Education

3 examples of mother tongue education to improve learning

Respecting indigenous languages in education is core to reducing exclusion

Bilingual education starts with the mother tongue

How Indigenous Millennials Are Using Tech to Save Their Dying Languages

Mother tongue-based education is changing lives in deep South

Using virtual reality to help teachers better support refugee students

EdTech and the global learning crisis: Building an evidence-driven future

How to Encourage Children to Read?

Education for sustainable development for 2030 toolbox

UNESCO partners with organizations in Myanmar to facilitate learning on Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (EPSD)

Timorese teachers are pioneering a new Tetun literacy horizon

Lao PDR: Advancing young children’s learning through a TV series

Improving education with EdTech evidence

Key Resources

Let’s Read storybook platform

Tools for Planning and Monitoring Programmes of Multilingual Education in Asia

UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) Learning Portal, Language of instruction

Approaches to language in education for migrants and refugees in the Asia-Pacific Region

Ensuring inclusive education for ethnolinguistic minority children in the COVID-19 era: guidance note

Levels of Education

Vocational Education
Secondary Education
Primary Education
Non-Formal Education
Higher Education
Early Childhood and Pre-Primary Education