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International Mother Language Day

When a baby comes into the world, he comes with a language, his mother's language. He has been listening to his mother's voice in the womb and carrying the mother language with him for the rest of his life. It becomes the identity of that person. It connects him to his culture because each language has the culture to progress with it.

To mark the importance of the mother tongue, UNESCO announced International Mother Language Day in 1999. International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. First announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999, it was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly with the adoption of UN resolution 56/262 in 2002. Mother Language Day is part of a broader initiative "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world," as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 May 2007 in UN resolution 61/266, which was also established 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day was the initiative of Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, 21 February is the anniversary of the day when the people of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) fought for recognition of the Bangla language. It is also celebrated in West Bengal, India.

In Finland, the mother tongue is valued at every stage of education. Parents who speak more than one language are advised to speak their mother tongue with their children, as the mother language is considered the most natural language for thinking. It is also possible to learn your mother tongue in school. The only requirement is that there should be 5 children who want to learn the language. Then the school needs to find a teacher who can teach the mother tongue of those children.

Finland is also one of the best examples of how the mother tongue can be preserved. In Finland, learning in your mother tongue (Finnish) from early childhood education until a Doctorate degree in any field of your choice is possible. Considering the fact that the Finnish language is spoken only in Finland by 5.5. million people, Finland's efforts to preserve the language are phenomenal.

- Shirin Kulkarni, Research Director, CCE Finland

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