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February 21: Celebration of Language, Identity and Freedom

 February 21 celebrates the International Mother Language Day.

It is a global observance day aimed at promoting linguistic and cultural diversity and raising awareness of the importance of mother languages. It was first declared by UNESCO on November 17, 1999, and then adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002.

The theme for the 2024 International Mother Language Day celebration is “Multilingual education is a pillar of intergenerational learning.” 

UNESCO's event will feature two-panel discussions on multilingual education's role in enhancing learning quality. You can attend the event at UNESCO Headquarters on February 21 from 10 am to 1 pm Paris time or watch it live.

International Mother Language Day is a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for linguistic rights and a call to action to protect and promote all languages, especially those that are endangered.

It is a day to celebrate the beauty and diversity of languages and to recognize the role they play in shaping our identities and cultures.

The day has its roots in the historical events that took place in Bangladesh on February 21, 1952, which later became known as the Language Movement. The Language Movement was a political and cultural movement in Bangladesh to recognize Bengali as one of the state languages of Pakistan.

Each language embodies unique ways of thinking, communicating, and expressing ideas. It is through language that we transmit our traditions, beliefs, and values from one generation to the next. When a language is lost, a whole world of knowledge, history, and culture is also lost.

Celebrating International Mother Language Day can take many forms. People participate in cultural events, language workshops, and seminars to showcase the beauty and richness of their mother languages.

Schools and educational institutions organize activities to teach students about the importance of preserving their mother tongue. The Mother Tongue Language Film Festival in Washington D.C. has been celebrated since 2017 to commemorate and preserve the value and importance of today. 

Under the Digital India initiative, efforts are underway to computerize content in India's 22 scheduled languages and expand access to the country's other 234 recognized languages.

The digitization process commenced in June 2016 under the Bharatavani Project at the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysore. By February 2017, complimentary access to content in 60 Indian languages had been successfully established. 

Bangladesh observes today by remembering its martyrs and placing flowers at the Martyrs Monument and its replicas. It is a public holiday in Bangladesh. 

While advocating for a common language to enhance international relations is commendable, it's essential to appreciate the beauty found in the differences among cultures and languages.

This pursuit should not lead to the erasure of the unique characteristics that diverse cultures and languages offer.

As we celebrate International Mother Language Day, let us remember that every language is a treasure, and every effort to preserve and promote linguistic diversity contributes to a richer, more vibrant world.

Let us embrace our mother languages with pride and celebrate the diversity that makes our world so unique. 

Edited By: Georgiana Madalina Jureschi

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