21 February: International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day (Bhasha Divas) was observed across the world, with Bangladesh leading on 21 February 2014. This day is observed with an aim to promote awareness of linguistic, multilingualism and cultural diversity.
International Mother Language Day was announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999 and was formally recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.
It celebrates cultural diversity and commemorates the “language martyr” students of 1952 Bangladesh. In 1952 four students were killed on 21 February 1952 because they campaigned to officially use Bengali as their mother language in Bangladesh instead of Urdu. These students are honored by the encouragement of multiculturalism and the promotion of protective measures for endangered languages.
Current International Mother Language Day events include multicultural festivals which promote the hearing of all voices, and display social cohesion, cultural awareness, and tolerance. The unique nuances and subtleties of linguistic communication which connect individuals to culture and personal identity are valued and encouraged.
This day is being celebrated since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. UNESCO highlights the importance of mother tongue as part of the right to education and encourages its member states to promote instruction and education in the mother tongue.
UNESCO promotes mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual approaches in education - an important factor for inclusion and quality in education. Research shows this has a positive impact on learning and learning outcomes. The Organization provides normative frameworks for language policy and education and shares good practices in bilingual and multilingual education and mother tongue instruction.
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