International Mother Language Day: Matribhasha Diwas

International Mother Language Day: Matribhasha Diwas

International Mother Language Day recognizes that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO believes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning.

This year’s observance is a call on policymakers, educators and teachers, parents and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education, and inclusion in education to advance education recovery in the context of COVID-19. This effort also contributes to the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), for which UNESCO is the lead agency, and which places multilingualism at the heart of indigenous peoples’ development.

International Mother Language Day is observed on 21 February every year to promote linguistic culture and diversity. International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) in November 1999 to promote, protect and develop the languages across the world and to promote peace and tranquility. International Mother Language Day has been observed since 2000 to promote and protect Linguistic Culture and diversity across the world.

International Mother Language Day: Background

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999. The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution of 2002.

On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism and named the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the Year.

Today there is growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in strengthening co-operation and attaining quality education for all, in building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage, and in mobilizing political will for applying the benefits of science and technology to sustainable development.

Safeguarding Linguistic Diversity:

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost.

Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

International Mother Language Day is observed every year to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Why Celebrated?

Languages play a very important role in preserving the culture and promoting peace and harmony. Languages play a vital role in identification of communities, to communicate and to promote peace and development. Languages also constitute a medium of learning and education.

Because of globalization many languages are at the verge of extinction. Fading languages will impact the cultural diversity and also result in the loss of a valuable resource.

An estimated 6000 languages are spoken around the world, out of which nearly 43% are endangered. These languages constitute a most important ingredient in promoting cultural harmony, peace and tranquility; losing them will mean the loss of a vital heritage.

It is to promote the languages and to protect them from getting extinct; the International Mother Language Day is celebrated.

One of the main objectives behind observing the International Mother Language day is to encourage people to promote their mother languages and also to acknowledge their linguistic diversity and unity.

Themes:

  • 2021: Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society
  • 2020: Languages without borders
  • 2019: Indigenous Language matter for development, peace, building and reconciliation
  • 2018: Linguistic Diversity and Multilingualism Count for Sustainable Development
  • 2017: Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education
  • 2016: Quality Education, Language(s) of Instruction and Learning Outcomes
  • 2015: Inclusion in and Through Education: Language Counts
  • 2014: Local Languages for Global Citizenship: Spotlight on science
  • 2013: Mother Tongues and Books – Including Digital Books and Textbooks
  • 2012: Mother Tongue Instruction and Inclusive Education
  • 2011: The Information and communication Technologies for the Safeguarding and Promotion of Languages and Linguistic diversity

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