“Save our mother tongues!” – The 24th International Day of Mother Tongues


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International Mother Language Day Celebration in Bangladesh

International Day of Mother Tongue occurs today, Tuesday, 21 February. Initiated in Bangladesh, this event has been celebrated for 23 years since it was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference. 

The 24th edition of International Mother Language Day will focus on the theme, ‘of multilingual education – a necessity to transform education’. Despite the rise in literacy rate, 40 per cent of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. This phenomenon is common in Africa, where it can be challenging to integrate mother tongues into the education system of African countries with many different native languages. The limited access to textbooks and teachers further deteriorates the situation.

Beyond those languages in Africa, many other languages are increasingly under threat or disappearing altogether due to globalization, including the Sicilian, Romani and Lao. 

Languages and variations within languages play both a unifying and a diversifying role in human society. When the languages fade, cultural diversity is diminished as well. 

During the 24th event occurring, the following themes will be discussed at the Conference:

  1. Enhancing multilingual education is a necessity to transform education in multilingual contexts from early childhood education and well beyond;
  2. Supporting learning through multilingual education and multilingualism in our fast-changing global contexts and crises, including emergency contexts;
  3. Revitalizing languages that are disappearing or are threatened with extinction.