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Human rights and minority language education - 12th Session of the Forum on Minority Issues
28 Nov 2019 -  Item 2: Human rights and minority language education

Education in, and the teaching of, minority languages is an essential issue for many minorities around the world. Although a number of international and regional human rights instruments address the issue, gaps remain in identifying the relationship between human rights obligations and the use of minority languages in education. Participants will discuss the rights enshrined in international and regional human rights instruments providing for education in, and the teaching of, minority languages.

The loss of linguistic diversity is a loss for humanity’s heritage. Respectfully accommodating linguistic diversity is a hallmark of an inclusive society, and one of the keys to countering intolerance and racism. Inclusive education is also intimately connected to human rights obligations in that it involves equal learning opportunities for all, including speakers of minority languages, without any discrimination. The participants will explore the benefits of education in minority languages and the benefits of acquiring fluency in official and other languages. They will draw comparisons and discuss these issues through a human rights-based approach, including in the context of ensuring the right to education for all. This is particularly important for the education of minority children, who often face significant challenges in accessing quality education and who often drop out of school because education is not provided in their own language.

Discussions will highlight the positive, empowering effect of education in, and the teaching of, minority languages, in particular with regard to the effective participation in public life by persons belonging to minorities. Participants will address the specific needs and preferences of minorities with regard to pedagogical approaches, and methods for teaching in, and the teaching of, minority languages.

The panel discussion is moderated by Mr. Vincent Defourny, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva
• Ms. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Emerita, Associate Professor at Åbo Akademi University, Finland
• Mr. Aleksandr Kuzmin, Board Member of Latvian human Rights Committee
• Ms. Victoria Manning, Board Member of World Federation of the Deaf

Interactive Dialogue

Programme of work
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