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International Mother Language Day 2024, Date, History, Theme and Significance

International Mother Language Day 2024

Annually commemorated on February 21, International Mother Language Day in 2024 falls on a Wednesday, marking a special day of recognition and celebration of linguistic diversity worldwide. The genesis of International Mother Language Day traces back not to India, but to Bangladesh, highlighting a pivotal movement in the history of linguistic rights.

Language stands as the fundamental element in the art of communication, bridging gaps and fostering understanding among diverse cultures and traditions. The world, with its rich tapestry of languages, showcases the beauty inherent in diversity. India, with its myriad dialects, exemplifies linguistic variety, symbolizing the essence of cultural and linguistic diversity on a global scale.

International Mother Language Day 2024, Historical Background

The day has its roots in a tragic yet transformative event dating back to February 21, 1952, when a movement advocating for Bengali to be recognized as an official language in Bangladesh led to the loss of four student lives. This movement’s significance was globally acknowledged when, in November 1999, UNESCO’s General Conference proclaimed International Mother Language Day, an initiative later supported by the United Nations General Assembly.

International Mother Language Day 2024 Significance and Theme

This year, the theme for International Mother Language Day is “Multilingual education – a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning.” The theme underscores the critical role of multilingual education in fostering quality learning and promoting linguistic and cultural diversity.

The Global Challenge of Language Preservation

The United Nations highlights a concerning reality: 40% of the global population does not have access to education in their mother tongue, a figure that soars to over 90% in some regions. This situation poses a significant threat to linguistic diversity and the preservation of cultural heritage.

The Benefits of Mother Tongue Education

Research advocates for the inclusion of learners’ native languages in educational settings, pointing to improved learning outcomes, enhanced self-esteem, and refined critical thinking skills. Moreover, education in one’s mother tongue facilitates intergenerational learning and the safeguarding of cultural identities.

UNESCO’s Initiative for 2024

In alignment with this year’s theme, UNESCO has organized an event featuring two-panel discussions on the pivotal role of multilingual education in achieving quality learning. The event is scheduled for February 21, from 10 am to 1 pm Paris time, at UNESCO Headquarters, inviting global participation in a dialogue centred on linguistic diversity and education.

Important Takeaways to all Competitive exams

  • UNESCO Headquarters: Paris, France;
  • UNESCO Founded: 16 November 1945, London, United Kingdom;
  • UNESCO Head: Audrey Azoulay; (Director-General).


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