International Language Day 2020 promotes peaceful dialogue and aims to preserve indigenous heritage.
Rabat – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates International Mother Language Day annually on February 21 each year. With the language day, UNESCO seeks to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity.
UNESCO headquarters across the globe celebrate the event, announced the agency on its official website today.
The 2020 theme is “Language Without Borders”.
The tradition of celebrating International Mother Language Day originated in Bangladesh. The idea was approved in 1999 at the UNESCO General Conference. Since then the occasion has been celebrated every year on the same day.
“UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies” and to promote peace, the agency outlines on their website.
“It is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others”. UNESCO adds.
General Director of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay emphasized the significance of linguistic diversity and protection of mother languages. “By bringing their speakers closer together, by allowing them to flourish in a shared context, mother tongues generate inclusion, innovation and imagination. They also breathe life into cultural diversity and serve as instruments of peace,” Azoulay remarked.
Linguistic diversity is under threat around the world. Many languages, mainly indigenous, disappear more and more. “Globally 40 percent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand,” according to UNESCO.
However, many countries are making progress in mother-tongue based multilingual education. The importance of mother-tongue based education lies in early schooling, according to UNESCO.
Morocco is making considerable progress in the promotion and preservation of linguistic diversity. Since 2011, the country has included Tamazight (Berber) as an official language alongside Arabic in the constitution. Despite challenges, Morocco also is trying to promote the teaching of Tamazight in schools.