Mr. Ohio Ojo, Director, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Lagos Office has said that a UNESCO report has revealed that every child can learn to speak, write and read five different languages if spoken to at an early age.
Mr. Ojo disclosed this in an interview with Zaynab Oyedeji, after the International Mother Language Day event hosted by Voice of Nigeria (VON).
The International Mother Language Day was a day initiated by Bangladesh. It was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and since 2000, the day has been commemorated all over the world.
This year’s theme was, “Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society”.
At the virtual conference hosted by VON, Ms. Ngozi Onyedikachi Amanze, the National Program Officer for UNESCO at the regional office in Abuja, delivered the message of Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO.
“The theme of the Day this year, ‘Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society’, thus encourages us to support multilingualism and the use of mother tongues, both at school and in everyday life.
“This is essential, because when 40% of the world’s inhabitants do not have access to education in the language they speak or understand best, it hinders their learning, as well as their access to heritage and cultural expressions.
“This year, special attention is being paid to multilingual education from early childhood, so that for children, their mother tongue is always an asset,” she added.
Mr. Ohio Ojo, the moderator of the event commented, “the thought behind the Day is to ensure that no language is lost or goes into extinction. Celebrating it every year is to remind us that every language is important and I am happy that VON partnered with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that it is still on”.
When asked about the plans to ensure that this year’s theme is implemented, Mr. Ojo noted that individual organizations have roles to play.
“It now depends on individual organizations, depending on what they do to ensure that the UNESCO philosophy is carried out. In a training institute like ours, National Institute for Cultural Orientation, we ensure that we teach these languages.
“In a broadcasting station like VON, Radio Nigeria, and others, there’s multilingualism and it ensures that no one is left behind,” he added.