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UNESCO celebrates Indigenous Languages Decade

by Ajay Rajguru

UNESCO celebrated the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) on Tuesday 13 December. The world’s attention will be drawn to UNESCO’s ten-year action plan, which aims to preserve, revitalize, and celebrate indigenous languages. UNESCO is leading the International Decade of Indigenous Languages as the UN Organization in charge of Education, Sciences, Culture, and Communication and Information. Indigenous languages around the world are in a critical situation, and the Decade aims to raise awareness and mobilize stakeholders to act.

UNESCO celebrates Indigenous Languages DecadeIn the long run, at least 40% of the more than 6,700 indigenous languages spoken around the world are at risk of extinction because of a lack of speakers. As a result, cultural diversity would be severely endangered, as well as centuries-old knowledge and know-how that could be crucial to solving the climate change and biodiversity loss challenges of this century. Moreover, less than 2% of languages have any real presence online, including localized software and websites, text-to-speech services, and content moderation algorithms. The lack of a truly multilingual digital world prevents millions of Indigenous language speakers and signers from fully participating in society.

Over 700 delegates from UNESCO’s 193 Member States will attend the event in celebration of the Decade. These include ministers of national language policy, indigenous leaders, national language development agencies, language institutes and academic organizations, as well as representatives of the public and private sectors. Throughout the decade, they will discuss the Global Action Plan in detail. To increase the number of first-time language users (speakers and signers), improve language fluency, and encourage increased functional use of Indigenous languages. International cooperation is also encouraged, as is respect for linguistic diversity, intercultural dialogue, and inclusive education.

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