• Every year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates 21st February as International Mother Language Day to promote mother tongue-based multilingual education.
  • The theme of 2022 is: “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”, it focuses on the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.
  • The world has over 7,000 languages whereas India alone has about 22 officially recognized languages, 1635 mother tongues, and 234 identifiable mother tongues.
  • What is International Mother Language Day?
  • UNESCO declared 21st February as International Mother Language Day in 1999 and the World has been celebrating the same since 2000.
  • The day also commemorates a long struggle by Bangladesh to protect its mother language Bangla.
  • The resolution to mark 21st February as the International Mother Language Day was suggested by Rafiqul Islam, a Bangladeshi living in Canada.
  • He proposed the said date to commemorate the 1952 killings in Dhaka during the Bangla Language Movement.
  • The aim is to protect the diverse culture and intellectual heritage of different regions of the world.
  • According to the United Nations (UN) every two weeks, a language disappears and the world loses an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.
  • Due to globalisation, the rush for learning foreign languages for better job opportunities is a major reason behind the disappearance of mother languages.

Global Efforts for Protection of Languages

  • The UN has designated the period between 2022 and 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.
  • Earlier, the United Nations General Assembly had proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL).
  • The Yuelu Proclamation, made by UNESCO at Changsha (China) in 2018, plays a central role in guiding the efforts of countries and regions around the world to protect linguistic resources and diversity.
  • 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.


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