International Mother Language Day 2021 is on Sunday, 21st February.
Every 21st February is observed as International Mother Language Day on the proclamation of UNESCO on November 17, 1999 and firstly was celebrated on February 21, 2000.
The theme of the International Mother Language Day 2021 is,
“Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society”
this theme identifies that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO emphasizes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning.
History of International Mother Language Day
February 21, 1952, When Bengalis in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were asked to stop using their mother tongue by the dictatorial regime of Pakistan in 1952, a violent protest broke out throughout the Bengali nation. On February 21, 1952, a number of students and citizens laid down their lives to assert their rights and foiled the plan to force a foreign language upon them. Since 2000, this historic event is being celebrated as International Mother Language Day after a UNESCO proclamation to observe February 21 globally in recognition of the sacrifices of the martyrs for establishing the rightful place of the Bengali language. The proclamation came in the form of a resolution unanimously adopted at the plenary of the UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris in November 1999.
Power of Mother Tongue
Mother Language is defined as “a system of communication which is used by the people of a particular country or region for talking or writing.”
Mother tongue is defined as the first language a child is exposed to from the time of birth. It actually is the language in which a child is spoken to before he begins to understand words. It also refers to a person’s native language or home language. Mother tongue is generally understood as the language a child acquires through her parents and people around her or the language of the locality where the school is located. The following points elaborate the importance of Mother Language:
Importance of Mother Language
Mother Language Facts
⮚ It builds up a child’s social, personal and cultural identity.
⮚ Mother tongue provides children with a base that makes it easier for kids to learn other languages later as well.
⮚ This language, if taught in school, makes comprehension, understanding and learning easier. Various surveys have revealed that kids learn faster and better in the language they have been speaking in their homes.
⮚ Children enjoy more when taught in their own language, preventing delays and hiccups in learning.
⮚ They enjoy school more and feel at home being surrounded by pupil and teachers speaking a familiar language.
⮚ They are confident of themselves and sure about picking up new concepts with ease. This actually leads to higher self-esteem in the students.
⮚ It saves them from the unnecessary stress of getting lessons in a foreign language and coping with its pressure. It ultimately leads to the better academic performance of children.
⮚ The parents being familiar with their native language finds it easier to get engaged with the education of their ward. They find it easy to communicate with the teachers teaching their kids.
⮚ It makes students remain connected to their cultural roots.
⮚ Being taught in their mother tongue kinds of providing an equal opportunity to all regardless of their status, geographic location or different ethnic backgrounds.
⮚ Using a mother tongue helps a child develop their critical thinking and literacy skills
⮚ A child’s learning begins at home in the mother tongue and when a child comes to school to learn in a foreign language, it does slow down the learning process. Continuing the learning in the mother tongue will ensure faster learning and retention. ⮚ Learning in the local language boosts the self-confidence of children and they will be able to express themselves better without any hesitation.
In 1953, UNESCO suggested that “Every effort should be made to provide education in the mother tongue”. As recently as in 2016, as part of the Global Education Monitoring Report, UNESCO again outlined that “To be taught in a language other than one’s own has a negative effect on learning.”
NEP’s recommendation rightly states that “wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother-tongue/local language/regional language”.
In the modern world, everyone can teach you English, but not everyone can teach you your mother tongue
Author: M Ahmad, Srinagar