February 21 is International Mother Language Day
Morung Express News
Dimapur | February 21
On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) 2016, on February 21, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stressed on the importance of mother languages for quality education and linguistic diversity, to take forward the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The theme for this year is ‘Inclusive Education through and with Language – Language Matters’.
Mother languages, in a multilingual approach, are essential components of quality education, which is itself the foundation for empowering women and men and their societies, the UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova stated in her message for the day.
Multilingualism is essential to drive these objectives forward – it is vital for success across the 2030 Agenda, regarding growth, employment and health, as well as sustainable consumption and production, and climate change, the UNESCO said in a statement.
“This is especially important for girls and women, as well as minorities, indigenous peoples, and rural populations,” UNESCO also maintained.
For the UNESCO, it is highlighting the importance of mother and local languages as channels for safeguarding and sharing indigenous cultures and knowledge, which are vast reservoirs of wisdom.
We must recognise and nurture this power, in order to leave no one behind, to craft a more just and sustainable future for all, the UNESCO futher Urged.
The Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger lists 197 languages in India that are on their way to becoming endangered. Around 25 Naga languages appear on the list under the category ‘vulnerable’ including Ao, Angami, Lotha, Konyak, Kiamungan, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Tangkhul, Yimchungru and so on. Kachari is listed as “definitely endangered.”
February 21, IMLD holds great significance for the Naga people given the circumstances.
According to the UNESCO, languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. To “appropriate language education” is fundamental to enable learners to benefit from quality education, learn throughout life, and have access to information. And “if nothing is done,” half of the 6000 plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century. Humanity would lose not only cultural wealth but also important ancestral knowledge embedded, in particular, in indigenous languages.
IMLD has been observed since 2000 after it was proclaimed by the General Conference of the UNESCO with the objective to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
Recognising this, the UNESCO, since 1996, has been publishing an Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger intended to raise awareness about language endangerment and the need to safeguard the world’s linguistic diversity.
The last edition in 2010 listed about 2,500 languages (among which 230 languages are extinct since 1950), approaching the generally-accepted estimate of some 3,000 endangered languages worldwide.