International Mother Language Day 2023: Celebrating the Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

International mother language day

Firstly, International Mother Language Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the 21st of February. This day is important as it aims to promote multilingualism and increase awareness about linguistic and cultural diversity. Additionally, this day recognizes the significance of language as a tool for communication and its representation of diverse cultural and intellectual heritage.

Furthermore, India is a country that boasts a remarkable range of linguistic and cultural diversity, with hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects spoken across its vast landscape. This unparalleled diversity makes India a unique and fascinating country, with a rich tapestry of cultural traditions and languages.

History of International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day was initiated by Bangladesh to commemorate four students who were killed on 21 February 1952 while campaigning for the use of Bengali as their mother language officially. In November 1999, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared International Mother Language Day (30C/62). In 2002, the General Assembly of the UN welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution A/RES/56/262.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 2007 calling Member States to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world. This resolution also proclaimed the International Year of Languages in 2008 to encourage unity in diversity and global understanding through multilingualism and multiculturalism, naming UNESCO as the lead agency of the year. This initiative increased awareness about language problems. It mobilized resources and partners to support the implementation of strategies and policies for language diversity and multilingualism in several parts of the world.

The Importance of Language and Communication

Language is fundamental to communication of all kinds. Communication plays an important role in making change and development in human society. The International Year of Languages was created when linguistic diversity was increasingly threatened. The theme of Mother Language Day 2023 is “multilingual education – a necessity to transform education”. The theme of 2022 was “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”. International Mother Language Day 2020 was “Languages without borders”. These themes focus on cross-border languages. Also, preserving indigenous heritage, and the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education. It supports the development of quality teaching and learning for all.

Celebrations of International Mother Language Day

UNESCO promotes this year’s theme “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”. It discusses the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education. It support the development of quality teaching and learning for all. This year, the webinar focuses on two main themes, namely the role of teachers in promoting quality multilingual teaching and learning and reflecting on technologies and their potential to support multilingual teaching and learning. UNESCO organizes several events on this day and encourages people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language. Also, learn the use of more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations are announcing several policies to promote the learning of language and support. Schools and colleges organize various activities to celebrate the diversity of languages.

About 1952 Bengali Language Movement, Bangladesh

In 1952, there were protests in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) against the government’s decision to make Urdu the national language. As a result, four university students lost their lives during the protests. However, the government recognized Bengali as the second official language in 1956. Consequently, the language became an integral part of the country’s culture and identity. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1971 when Bangladesh finally achieved independence with Bengali as its official language. This monumental event marked a significant turning point in the history of the country. It wasn’t until 1999 when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared International Mother Language Day. Finally, people from all over the world observed this important day on February 21, 2000, as a tribute to linguistic and cultural diversity.

UNESCO’s Celebrations for International Mother Language Day This Year

The UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, has emphasized the importance of language rights as human rights. To elaborate further, he calls for the promotion of mother tongue education for minorities and indigenous peoples, as well as the development of teaching materials and training for teachers. Moreover, he warns against the reduction or elimination of minority and indigenous languages in education, which can be discriminatory and assimilationist. It is imperative to celebrate linguistic diversity, as doing so is essential for building inclusive societies that respect the human rights of linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples.



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