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International Mother Language Day 2021 – February 21

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International MotherThe United Nations(UN)’s International Mother Language Day is annually observed across the globe on 21st February to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The 2021 marks the 22nd edition of the International Mother Language Day.

  • The day recognizes the importance of the languages and multilingualism towards advance inclusion and Sustainable Development Goals(SDG).
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) observed the first International Mother Language day on 21st February 2000. 

The theme of the 2021 International Mother Language Day is “Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society”. 

Background:

i.The General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999 proclaimed the 21st February as the International Mother Language Day.

ii.The day was first proposed by Bangladesh.

iii.The United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/56/262 in 2002 and welcomed UNESCO’s proclamation of the International Mother Language Day. 

Efforts of UN:

i.The UNGA adopted the resolution A/RES/61/266 on 16th May 2007 which called upon the member states to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by the people across the globe.

ii.The resolution also proclaimed the year 2008 as the International Year of languages to promote the unity in diversity and international understanding through multilingualism and multiculturalism.

Note:

The efforts of the 2021 international mother language day also contributes to the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022 to 2032).

Importance of protecting the Linguistic Diversity:

i.The language has a strategic importance for people and the planet and due to globalization the languages are under threat of disappearance.

ii.The disappearance of a language also affects the rich cultural diversity of the world.

It is estimated that for every 2 weeks a language disappears along with its entire culture and intellectual heritage.

iii.Out of the 6000 languages spoken across the globe around 43% are endangered.

iv.Only a few hundred languages have been recognised and given a place in education and public domain and less than 100 languages are used in the digital world.

Events 2021:

i.As a part of the International mother language day 2021, UNESCO has organised a virtual event, a webinar on the theme of the day.

ii.The webinar has also address 2 sub themes,

  • Rethinking inclusive policy and practice in teaching and learning in multilingual contexts.
  • Enhancing inclusion through multilingualism, including sign language, in early childhood education and care (ECCE), the foundation for learning.

ii.The webinar was held in English, French and Spanish as well as in International Sign Language.

Events in India:

i.The Union Ministry of Education has been celebrating the International Mother Language day as Matribhasha Diwas since 2015.

ii.As a part of the celebration, a four-day virtual event has been organised by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA).

iii.On the inaugural day of the webinar, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu addressed the webinar on fostering multilingualism for inclusion in Education and society.

iv.He also inaugurated the International virtual calligraphy exhibition.