The theme of the 2016 International Mother Language Day is “Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes.” It’s something I talk about a lot – diversity. For years now it has been the buzzword of politicians, educators, legislators and society as a whole.
I think of the world now as a collective, we’re all here on this planet to achieve something – not just for ourselves and to have a good life, but for the greater good and the rest of society. What kind of a world would we be living in if we didn’t look out for each other? What would life be like now if we didn’t care about the environment? What if we didn’t take the time to understand one another, not just our immediate neighbours but our international brothers and sisters? I’d hate to imagine the consequences of a society like that.
We are after all one race, one humanity and one world. If you think of your mother language like a currency, a medium through which you give and receive, it makes this concept easier. Today we are celebrating the fact that we can all learn, advance, respect and understand through our own languages. It is on the UN’s agenda and it is on our agenda. We should celebrate our mother tongue and respect the power it brings – it brings us love, kindness, education, learning, decisions and fairness. In our nations our language is our common currency, we use it to share with each other and to progress our ideas and projects.
To illustrate I take a quote from the UN:
On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.
For those who cannot hear or speak, we also have languages in other forms – sign language and braille for example. They also develop with time, our linguistics, our language application and the way we communicate are ever evolving, even more so with technology, emojis and tweets. The way we communicate is changing and let’s not forget the power our language can bring us.
You might hear the phrase ‘we’re on all the same page’ or ‘we’re all speaking the same language here.’ There is no reason to use words for badness, hate and negativity. Easy for me to say but sometimes it happens; we should all take time today to give thanks for our mother language and use it wisely and respectfully to advance society.