International Mother Language Day is observed every year on February 21 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism around the world.
The initiative of celebrating International Mother Language Day first came from Bangladesh, a South Asian country. Later the general conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November, 1999 took decision to celebrate February 21 as International Mother Language Day. Since 2000, February 21 has been observed across the world.
The UN General Assembly on May 16, 2007 through a resolution urged the member states “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”, reports NDTV.
International Mother Language Day 2021 Theme
The theme of International Mother Language Day 2021 is “fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society.”
“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,” an official statement from UNESCO said.
Marking the day, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said, “The theme of the day this year, “Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society”, thus encourages us to support multilingualism and the use of mother tongues, both at school and in everyday life.”
“This is essential, because when 40% of the world’s inhabitants do not have access to education in the language they speak or understand best, it hinders their learning, as well as their access to heritage and cultural expressions. This year, special attention is being paid to multilingual education from early childhood, so that for children, their mother tongue is always an asset,” she said.