Building peace in the minds of men and women

International Mother Language Day

21 February

The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day was the initiative of Bangladesh. It was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and has been observed throughout the world since 2000.

UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies. 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.  

Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL

"Technology  can  provide  new  tools  for  protecting  linguistic  diversity.  Such  tools,  for  example,  facilitating  their  spread  and  analysis,  allow  us  to  record  and  preserve  languages which sometimes exist only in oral form. Put simply, they make local dialects a shared heritage. However, because the Internet poses a risk of linguistic uniformization, we must also be aware that technological progress will serve plurilingualism only as long as we make the effort  to  ensure  that  it  does".

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day

2022 CELEBRATIONS

The theme of the 2022 International Mother Language Day, “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”, will discuss the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.

UNESCO organizes a webinar on 21 February from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Paris time) to celebrate Mother Language Day 2022: