Children learn when they understand the language used in school. When the language of reading and instruction is the same as the language spoken at home, parents can take an active part in their children’s schooling.
There are almost 7,000 languages spoken in the world today yet only 10% of those languages are used in schools. This means that more than 221 million children do not have access to education in their first language – the language they understand best.
Reaching All Girls
With 75% of out-of-school girls belonging to an ethnic, religious, cultural or linguistic minority, access to first language education matters especially to them. Local language learning increases the chances for a minority female student to stay in school longer and become better educated.
And educated girls make educated mothers. Along with healthier children, educated mothers are also more likely to have higher incomes, higher self-esteems, and have a greater chance of avoiding HIV infection, violence and exploitation. Plus, an educated mother is more likely to send her own daughters to school.
Lower Dropout Rates
First language education is crucial to keeping kids in school. One study of 22 countries and 160 languages found that lack of education in a child’s first language was a significant reason for children to drop out.
Another study in Mali found that students learning in their first language are three times less likely to drop out and five times less likely to repeat a year, compared with fellow students that were not learning in their first language.
Improved Quality of Education
Access to Health Information
Communities need lifesaving health information in the languages they speak to prevent diseases and help make better choices when they are sick. Women especially need vital health information in their own language to know how to best care for themselves and their children.
What if your child was sick but the dosage instructions for her medicine were in a language you didn’t understand?
HIV and AIDS Prevention
Vital health information about disease prevention in the language and context of the community can help to dispel misconceptions and stigmas about infectious diseases like HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and how they spread.
Putting essential health information into a compelling narrative that is relevant to the local language and culture can motivate people to take steps to positively change their behavior.