International Mother Language Day, which is observed on February 21st each year, raises awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity. It is also a day set aside to promote multilingualism. The first language a person learns is referred to as their mother tongue. A person’s identity is influenced by their mother tongue. Some people consider their mother tongue to be extraordinarily beautiful. This is particularly true if they reside in a region where their native tongue is not used.
For them, speaking their native tongue allows them to maintain ties to their country of origin and culture. Sadly, a mother tongue goes extinct every two weeks. When this occurs, a complete cultural heritage also vanishes. 43 percent of the 6,000 languages spoken worldwide are in danger of extinction. In the future, these endangered languages will vanish. There are a number of reasons why languages are threatened.
Some languages are merely supplanted by those that are more frequently spoken. The younger generations of youngsters are not learning other languages. There are thousands of languages today that have only one living native speaker. When that individual dies, so does their language. Learn with us about this day.
Theme of International Mother Language Day 2023
2023 International Mother Language Day will focus on the theme ‘multilingual education – a necessity to transform education’.
2023 celebrations of International Mother Language
DayThe 24th edition of International Mother Language Day will focus on the theme ‘multilingual education – a necessity to transform education’.
Multilingual education based on mother-tongue facilitates access to and inclusion in learning for population groups that speak non-dominant languages, languages of minority groups and indigenous languages. The event organised by UNESCO on 21 February will explore and debate on the potential of multilingualism to transform education from a lifelong learning perspective and in different contexts.
The discussions will be based around the following three interconnected themes
Enhancing multilingual education as a necessity to transform education in multilingual contexts from early childhood education and well beyond;
Supporting learning through multilingual education and multilingualism in our fast-changing global contexts and in crisis situations including emergencies contexts;
Revitalising languages that are disappearing or are threatened with extinction.
History of International Mother Language Day
The day was recognised on Bangladesh’s request and has been honoured globally since 2000, according to the UNESCO website. Concern over the global loss of languages was expressed by UNESCO. According to the report, 40% of the world’s population lacks access to education in a language they can speak or understand.
Thus, UNESCO decided to observe the day as part of its commitment to recognising the value of mother tongue (or mother language), particularly in early learning. A step towards demonstrating dedication to the advancement of mother tongue in public life is the International Mother Language Day.
Mother tongues spoken in India
According to census data, more than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken as the primary language in India. According to the report, there are 121 languages spoken by 10,000 or more people in India. The 121 languages are divided into two categories: languages listed in the Indian Constitution’s Eighth Schedule, which includes 22 languages, and languages not listed there, which includes 99 languages.
Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili, and Dogri are among the scheduled languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
In the beginning, the Constitution was written in 14 of these languages. In 1967, the Sindhi language was added. After that, three other languages-Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992. Bodo, Dogri, Maithili and Santhali were added in 2004.
India’s Initiatives To Protect Mother Tongues
The recently announced National Education Policy 2020 has given maximum attention to the development of mother tongues.
The Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT) is providing publication grants towards the publications of University Level Books in regional languages.
It was established in 1961 to evolve technical terminology in all Indian Languages.
The National Translation Mission (NTM) is being implemented through the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore under which the text books of various subjects prescribed in Universities and Colleges are being translated in all languages of the Eighth Schedule.
“Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages” scheme for conservation of threatened languages.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) also promotes regional languages in higher education courses in the country and supports nine Central Universities under the scheme “Establishment of Centre for Endangered Languages in Central Universities”.
Other Initiatives by the Government of India include the Bharatavani project and the proposed setting up of a Bharatiya Bhasha Vishwavidyalaya (BBV).
Recently, an initiative Namath Basai by Kerala State Government has proved to be very beneficial in educating children from tribal areas by adopting vernacular languages as medium of instruction.
Google’s Project Navlekha uses technology to protect mother language. The project is aimed at increasing the online content in Indian local languages.
Related Constitutional And Legal Provisions in India
Article 29 of the Constitution (Protection of interests of minorities) gives all citizens the right to conserve their language and prohibits discrimination on the basis of language.
Article 120 (Language to be used in Parliament) provides for use of Hindi or English for transactions of Parliament but gives the right to members of Parliament to express themselves in their mother tongue.
Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with the official languages in Articles 343 to 351.
Article 350A (Facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage) provides that it shall be the endeavour of every State and of every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.
Article 350B (Special Officer for linguistic minorities): The President should appoint a special officer for linguistic minorities to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities and to report to him.
The President should place all such reports before the Parliament and send them to the state government concerned.
The Eighth Schedule recognises following 22 languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.
Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 says that the medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be in a child’s mother tongue.