Languages without borders
INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY 2020
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International Mother Language Day is observed on 21 February to spread awareness about the importance of linguistic, cultural diversity and multilingualism.
- When India gained independence from British rule, the subcontinent of India was divided into a separate Muslim state (East Pakistan and West Pakistan) and a separate Hindu state (India). There was a cultural and lingual conflict between East Pakistan (today Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (Today Pakistan).
- In 1948, the government of Pakistan declared Urdu as the national language and due to it, the tensions grew more. This decision of the government sparked several violent protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. Some students of the University of Dhaka organised a protest with some activists on 21 February, 1952.
- Later that day, the police opened fire at the students, protesters and four students of the university were killed.
- The martyrdom of these students who fought for the Bengali language to be used as mother language officially is remembered on International Mother Language Day.
- Finally, on 29 February, 1956, Bengali was recognised as the second official language of Pakistan. In 1971, East Pakistan became an independent country namely Bangladesh and Bengali became its official language.
- The General Conference of the UNESCO in November 1999 declared International Mother Language Day and on 21st February, 2000 the first International Mother language Day was observed.
- Theme of International Mother Language Day 2020: “Languages without borders”.
- The theme focuses on cross-border languages and helps to preserve indigenous heritage.
- UNESCO organised several events on this day and encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language and learn the use of more than one language.
- Several policies are also announced by the governments and non-governmental organisation to promote the learning of languages and support.
- Various activities are also organised in schools and colleges to celebrate the diversity of languages.
- Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened because several languages are disappearing.
- According to UNESCO, a 40 percent population of the world does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand.
- Therefore, it is necessary to make progress in mother tongue-based multilingual education with the need for understanding its importance.
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