Quality education should be delivered in the language spoken at home. However, this minimum standard is not met for hundreds of millions, limiting their ability to develop foundations for learning. By one estimate, as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. The challenges are most prevalent in regions where linguistic diversity is greatest such as in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and the Pacific.
Poverty and gender magnify educational disadvantages linked to ethnicity and language. With a new global education agenda that prioritizes equity and lifelong learning for all, the policy of respecting language rights is essential and deserves close attention.