International Mother Language Day 2023: See theme, history, significance here

February 21 is celebrated as the International Mother Language Day, as declared by the United Nations in 2000. As per the UNESCO, this day aims to celebrate the ways of expressing the world in its multiplicity, committing to the preservation of the diversity of languages as a common heritage, and working for quality education in mother tongues for all.

The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day was the initiative of Bangladesh and was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General conference.

Here’s all you need to know about International Mother Language Day:

Language Movement Day, also called Language Martyrs’ Day, is observed in Bangladesh on February 21 for commemorating the language martyrs of East Pakistan who fought imposition of Urdu and established Bangla as their official language nearly two decades before Bangladesh became an independent country.

The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution of 2002.

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

The theme of the 24th edition of International Mother Language Day is ‘multilingual education – a necessity to transform education’.

Multilingual education based on mother-tongue facilitates access to and inclusion in learning for population groups that speak non-dominant languages, languages of minority groups and indigenous languages.

As per the UNESCO, linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. It is also observed that globally 40 percent of the population do not have access to education in a language they speak or understand.

It further added that progress is being made in multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

At least 43 percent of the estimated 6,000 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.

As per the 2018 Census report, India recorded 19,500 distinct entries for “mother tongue”, of which only 121 were categorised and even fewer constitutionally recognized.

Eminent linguist and folklorist Mahendra Kumar Mishra from Odisha has been nominated for UNESCO’s International Mother Language Award 2023 for his lifetime service for promotion of mother language in India.

On 17 February, the Punjab Assembly Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan held a meeting with MLAs, scholars and language activists for the promotion of Punjabi language. During the discussion, scholars and language activists said the legal work in Punjab and Haryana High Court and lower courts should be carried out in Punjabi. As per an official statement, the government and private institutions have been urged to write Punjabi as a first language on their signage and boards by the International Mother Language Day.


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