On the International Day of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples, senior U.N. officials are calling to close the education gap between indigenous and non-indigenous populations. A key component of that, they emphasize, is providing “culturally and linguistically appropriate” education.
“Indigenous peoples regularly face stigmatization of their cultural identity and lack of respect and recognition for their heritage and values, including in textbooks and other educational materials,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his remarks on Tuesday. “Their marginalization is often compounded by language barriers. Instruction is mainly in the national language, with little or no instruction in, or recognition of, indigenous languages.”
In order to close the education gap, the U.N. recommended that instruction in the mother tongue be provided, and if the indigenous mother language has been lost, that language revitalization programs be integrated.
According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries (though some sources put that number much higher). They account for 15 percent of the world’s poorest, despite being only 5 percent of the total population. In many parts of the world, disaggregated data breaking out benchmarks for indigenous populations isn’t even available, but where it is, it reveals a consistent story of disparities in education access, retention, and achievement.
Read more: ThinkProgress