Geneva, 21 February 2023 (TDI): On 21st February every year, United Nations (UN) celebrates International Mother Language Day.

The aim behind this day is to recognize the multilingualism that exists worldwide, preserve the diversity of languages as a common heritage, and work for quality education in the mother tongue for all.

Theme and purpose

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that the 24th edition of International Mother Language Day would focus on the theme ‘multilingual education – a necessity to transform education’.

Multilingual education is based on mother-tongue facilities’ access to learning, also it is inclusivist for the population groups that speak non-dominant languages, languages of minority groups, and indigenous languages.

Also read: European Day of Languages 2022

To create sustainable societies, the importance of cultural-linguistic diversity needs to be recognized. UNESCO is working to preserve the languages that exist in different societies for fostering peace, tolerance, and respect.

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist based on their languages which is a source of transmission and preservation of traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

Linguistic diversity is under threat because more and more languages have disappeared. According to data, 40 percent of the population have access to an education in a language they speak and comprehend. 

However, progress has been made in multilingual education to recognize its growing importance, especially in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

Events on 21st February

On 21st February UNESCO would organize an event from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (CET) that would explore, and debate the potential of multilingualism.

The main discourse would include: how to enhance multilingual education to transform education in multilingual contexts, how to support learning through multilingual education, the importance of multilingualism in a global context, and how to revitalize languages. 

It is pertinent to note that Bangladesh initiated International Mother Language Day. UNESCO approved it in 1999 at the General Conference. Since the year 2000, the entire world has been commemorating this day.