International Mother Language Day 2012

Tomorrow, February 21st, marks the 12th annual International Mother Language Day. In honour of this worldwide occasion, we bring you some facts about the day, and what it represents.

· International Mother Language Day was founded by UNESCO in November 1999 to “promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism, and to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.” It has been internationally observed since the year 2000.

· February 21st was chosen to mark the anniversary, and in recognition of, the death of students from the University of Dhaka in 1952. The students were shot dead by police whilst on a peaceful protest for what is now known as the Bengali Language Movement.

· In Bangladesh, February 21st is observed as a national holiday, National Language Movement Day.

· To remember the students, there is a monument named Shaheed Minar (Language Martyr’s Monument) on the Dhaka University campus in Bangladesh. There are smaller monuments in every district of Bangladesh.

· There are similar monuments in the UK, in Manchester, Oldham, Birmingham and in Altab Ali Park, in Whitechapel, East London. Another is proposed for Clare Gardens in Cardiff.

· UNESCO Headquarters launches the event and Member States are encouraged to organize educational, cultural and social activities that support linguistic diversity and multilingual education.

· Schools, universities and cultural institutions are especially involved in activities promoting the goals of International Mother Language Day.

· There is a theme attached to each year’s observance. The theme for 2012 is “Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education.”

· A Photo Contest was organised to mark this years’ event. Contestants from all nationalities were invited to submit up to 3 photos which embodied the theme “Languages and Cultures through the Language of Photography.” Winners are due to be announced shortly.

Are you involved in any International Mother Language Day activities? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!