Education is a fundamental human right. Yet millions go uneducated because their schools use a language they don’t understand.

Of the some 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, only a small number — usually countries’ official languages — are used in schools. When a student encounters a different language in school than at home, the student often struggles to understand. Many drop out.

“Excluding languages means excluding those who speak them from their fundamental human right to … knowledge.” — Irina Bokova, UNESCO

UNESCO promotes “mother-tongue-based” bilingual or multilingual education, which has been shown to help students develop strong literacy skills. It can also help children acquire another language, preparing them to be global citizens.

“Multilingualism is a source of strength and opportunity for humanity. It embodies our cultural diversity and encourages the exchange of views, the renewal of ideas and the broadening of our capacity to imagine,” Irina Bokova, the head of UNESCO, has said.

February 21 is UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day. Grab these free posters for your home or dorm room!