May, Fah and Muey look like ordinary Thai girls, perhaps a bit shorter and shyer than many of their classmates at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University. But thanks to a new teacher recruitment programme, they are superheroes in the making. And today is their day.
Commemorated annually on Feb 21, the United Nations International Mother Language Day celebrates the world’s 7,117 languages. This year’s theme, “Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and in society”, highlights how acceptance of cultural diversity can help build healthier and more resilient communities.
Thailand is a case in point. Far from being a monolingual nation, the country’s 70 million citizens speak more than 70 mother tongues. Many of these languages are found in remote border villages such as the Karen, Hmong and Lahu communities where May, Fah and Muey grew up. May’s mother tongue, for example, is Sgaw Karen, while Fah grew up speaking Hmong and Muey Lahu.
The Flexible Learning Strategies for Out of School Children programme is a UNESCO initiative with the aim of supporting inclusive and quality education for every child in the region. Our goal is to reach the remaining and most vulnerable 5% of children with no access to education in the region and support quality improvements in learning for every child.
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