Last Updated: February 20, 2023, 23:02 IST
The establishment of International Mother Tongue Day is a step towards demonstrating dedication to the growth of the mother tongue in everyday discourse. (Representative image: Shutterstock)
UNESCO has designated 2023’s International Mother Language Day to focus on the theme “Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education”
INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY 2023: To encourage linguistic and cultural richness as well as multilingualism, February 21 is observed as International Mother Language Day. With an emphasis on leaving no individual behind, this day acknowledges how language and multilingualism can achieve inclusiveness and goals for long-term sustainability. Individuals are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of language in development, preserving cultural diversity and cross-cultural conversation, as well as enhancing collaboration and achieving quality education for all.
This day is commemorated across the world and was designated by UNESCO in 1999. On this day, UNESCO conducts several activities to promote the adoption of multiple languages and the preservation of native language proficiency.
International Mother Language day 2023: History and Significance
As India became independent from British in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was split into two different states: an independent India as a Hindu state and a separate Muslim state (East Pakistan and West Pakistan). Post this, East Pakistan, currently known as Bangladesh, and West Pakistan, currently known as Pakistan, went on to have a linguistic and cultural war. The tensions rose after Pakistan’s government proclaimed Urdu its official language in 1948. In East Pakistan, where Bengali is the dominant language, this government move triggered several violent riots.
On February 21, 1952, a few University of Dhaka students and several activists organised a protest where four university students were killed during an open fire on the crowd by the police.
On World Mother Language Day, the martyrdom of these students who strived for the Bengali language to be recognised as their mother tongue is remembered.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference approved Bangladesh’s proposal to mark International Mother Language Day in 1999, and it has been honoured globally since then.
Concern over the global extinction of languages was also voiced by UNESCO. So, it decided to mark this day as a commitment to recognising the value of native language, particularly in early learning. The establishment of International Mother Tongue Day is a step towards demonstrating dedication to the growth of the mother tongue in everyday discourse.
International Mother Language day 2023: Theme
UNESCO has designated 2023’s International Mother Language Day to focus on the theme “Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education.” For population groups who speak non-dominant languages, languages of minority groups, and indigenous languages, mother-tongue-based multilingual education simplifies the process for them to receive education and be included in it.
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