IMLD 2022 aims to contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 by recognizing the role of teachers in promoting multilingual teaching and learning through technology.
A recent UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank and OECD survey on national education responses to COVID-19 school closures of 143 countries showed that only 58 percent of low-income countries provided remote learning through online platforms for at least one education level. Most of these countries reported using broadcast media such as television (83%) and radio (85%) to implement distance education. Africa appeared to be the most active in the efforts to leverage either TV or radio (70%), some combining both (34%).
During COVID-19 school closures, many looked to technology-based solutions to maintain continuity of learning. However, the lack of readiness and skills proved to be significant obstacles to distance teaching. Moreover, distance teaching, learning tools, programmes and content were largely provided in official/dominant national or international languages.
Education dispensed in a mother tongue is a key component of inclusion and technology has the potential to tear down educational barriers today. Localization (process of adapting a product to a specific country, region or area) includes translation and cultural adaptation of user interfaces and software applications. It makes information and communication technology more accessible to the populations of the poorer countries, increasing its relevance to their lives, needs, and aspirations, and ultimately bridging the “digital divide.”
Part of the greater global conversation, so to speak, to preserve precious local heritage, culture and wisdom, multilingual learning also seeks to recognize and validate these values in individuals, particularly children, so that they can go on to see themselves not as divided souls or outsiders, but full members of their communities.