In 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 as International Mother Language Day to promote cultural diversity and multilingualism across the globe.
According to the academicians, a child’s native language should be included in his early schooling as it is the most important tool for understanding basic concepts in their pre-primary period.
The point was made during two-day national conference on ‘early language and literacy’, organised by the Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development (CECED) in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Sunita Singh, Director of Childhood Education Centre at the Ambedkar University, thinks that language literacy should find some space in the education policy. Languages early in this age should be taught meaningfully where they should be able to connect easily.
According to Sunita Singh, the current method of teaching involves rote learning in which children merely mug up texts without understanding much, which needs to change. She stressed on the point that English and Hindi should hold the position like they do presently in the teaching of the curriculum, but “local languages should also be respected.”
Other speakers also advocated for multilingual teaching during the early years of a child and for a major policy change in favour of the inclusion of local language texts.
Apart from academicians from several universities, many NGOs working in the field of literacy also took part in the conference.
Learning to speak in the native language is very important for a child’s overall development:
- It connects the child to his culture
- It ensures better cognitive development
- Being fluent in two or more languages helps children make more friends
- It broaden their horizons
- Better employment opportunities