International Mother Language Day: A Celebration of Diversity

On 21 February 2024, the global community will commemorate International Mother Language Day, a significant observance established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 17 November 1999. 

Since its inception on 21 February 2000, this day has served as a platform to raise awareness about the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity, as well as to promote multilingualism worldwide.

Language is the way by which people communicate with one another, build relationships, and create a sense of community. This underscores the fundamental significance of languages within cultures There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, and each is unique in its own right. 

A mother language taught at an early age provides a child with a sense of belonging and helps him to understand his roots and culture. It also facilitates enhanced cognitive development and supports the learning process of other languages.

The esteemed Nelson Mandela summed it up well when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

We celebrate Mother Language Day recognising that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO encourages and promotes multilingual education based on the mother tongue or first language.