Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression valuable resources for ensuring a better future are also lost.
At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world. International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
The International Mother Language Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on the 17th of November 1999 and was firstly observed in 2000. This day commemorates the incident in year 1952 in which students from different educational institutions demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of present-day Bangladesh.
International Mother Language day 2019 theme is: “Indigenous languages matter for development, peace building and reconciliation”. This year, International Mother Language day 2019 will be framed by the International Year of indigenous languages 2019 (IYIL19) around the theme “Indigenous languages matter for development, peace building and reconciliation”. International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is celebrated every year on 21 February with the overall objective to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education.
In respect of this day, we, at World Assembly of Youth (WAY), aim to bring perception to this issue and appeal to the society to embrace this day globally. We strongly encourage young people to rejoice this day and the value of all mother tongues for linguistic and cultural diversity. Besides, in the context of education itself, the significance of mother tongue language is obvious acknowledging the fact that it is more approachable to teach young people in their own language. It is pivotal for young people to recognise that language diversity helps to enrich us all; that this diversity of languages is a treasure, not a barrier.