On February 21, International Mother Language Day is celebrated every year, worldwide. It is to promote and honor linguistic and cultural diversity around the world. This significant day shows how languages hold strategic importance for every human being and further helps in the process of education and development.
Bangladesh took the initiative to set up International Mother Language Day. It was approved at the 1999 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) General Conference and has been celebrated ever since. In 2000 the first International Mother Language Day was observed throughout the world.
According to the UN, almost 6000 languages are spoken around the world and more than 43% of them are on the verge of extinction. Only 100 languages are officially recognized in the education system. Therefore to maintain and establish the importance of multilingualism, International Mother Language Day is observed. They also help with the proper preservation of these languages.
Every year, this day is celebrated with a special theme, and for this year it is ‘Using Technology For Multilingual Learning: Challenges And Opportunities’. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the lockdown regulations, schools and several other educational institutions have not yet been opened. As a result of their regular functioning being halted, the rise of technology-based education has increased.
The UN has mentioned that this technology-based education has a lot of potential in the spreading of education-related awareness and discussions. Therefore, this year the major component is the inclusion of mother tongue or language in education. Along with this, the quality of teaching and learning will also be discussed.
India has approximately 12 languages, among which 22 of them are specified in the Eight schedules, in part A of the constitution of India. This leaves the rest 99, which are specified in part B. India also has 270 mother languages. Several mother tongues used across India by millions of people do not enjoy the status of a language. These include Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Chhattisgarhi, and Magadhi (Magahi).
In the year 1998, two Canadian Bangladeshis, Rafiqul Islam, and Abdus Salam wrote and requested to the secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Annan to take some steps to save the endangered languages.
Rafiq, one of the Canadian Bangladeshis suggested the date to be February 21, which is to commemorate the killings in Dhaka during the Language Movement in 1952. Their proposal was accepted by UNESCO in 1999, declaring February 21 as the International Mother Language Day. In Bangladesh, it is a public holiday, they celebrate it by placing flowers at the Shaheed Minar, the Martyrs’ Monument, and its replicas.
A webinar is scheduled to take place on February 21, 2022, in the United Nations, to celebrate the awareness of the topic and International Mother Language Day. This will be held by UNESCO from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Paris time.