International Mother Language Day


  • UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day on 21 February ever year  to promote mother tongue-based multilingual education.
  • The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day was the initiative of Bangladesh.
  • It was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and has been observed throughout the world since 2000.
  • UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies.
  • It is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others. 
  • Linguistic diversity (link is external) is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear.
  • Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand.
  • Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.
  • Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

India’s Initiatives:
  • The recently announced National Education Policy 2020 has given maximum attention to the development of mother tongues.
  • The Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT) is providing publication grants towards the publications of University Level Books in regional languages.
  • Google’s Project Navlekha uses technology to protect mother language. The project is aimed at increasing the online content in Indian local languages.
  • An initiative Namath Basai by Kerala State Government has proved to be very beneficial in educating children from tribal areas by adopting vernacular languages as medium of instruction.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) also promotes regional languages in higher education courses in the country and supports nine Central Universities under the scheme “Establishment of Centre for Endangered Languages in Central Universities”.
  • Other Initiatives by the Government of India include the Bharatavani project and the proposed setting up of a Bharatiya Bhasha Vishwavidyalaya (BBV).
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