February 21 is International Mother Language Day! This day is celebrated to encourage recognition of all languages used by people around the globe, as it reflects the wonderful diversity of our world.
International Mother Language Day (IMLD) was first introduced in November 1999 by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and formally acknowledged by the United Nations in May 2007. 2015 marks the 15th year of celebrating IMLD.
The dedicated day is observed to promote and develop a “fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.” This supports unity and cohesion between societies, representing the universal values of the UN.
Each Member State of the United Nations marks the day through awareness and activities at their national institutions and associations. Every year IMLD has a theme, 2015 is “Inclusion in and through education: Language counts.” It focuses on those who are linguistically minorities. In several cases, linguistic minorities have little or no access to quality education. If they do have access, then it is likely that the language of instruction will not be their mother tongue and as a result may find it difficult to pursue their education beyond primary level or perhaps be pushed out of education.
A special ceremony will be held in Paris, France on February 20, 2015 to discuss these issues. The theme this year is closely related to the Education for All (EFA) goals. These are six internationally agreed goals to improve education worldwide by 2015, as differences in language has proved to be a barrier in achieving these goals. With the awareness raised by IMLD, everyone around the world should hopefully be able to receive quality education, whatever their language.
Welocalize invites you to celebrate International Mother Language Day by thinking of those who may not have access to education in their mother tongue. One of the wonderful things about our world is its diversity and language is an intrinsic part of that. Our linguistic differences should be celebrated, because it’s part of what makes us extraordinary!
*The reason IMLD is held on February 21 is because in 1952, two students were killed by police in Dhaka (which is the capital of present-day Bangladesh) in former Pakistan while demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla.