In 1999, UNESCO decided to launch an International Mother Language Day (IMLD) to be observed throughout the world each year on 21 February.
This celebration is designed to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education, to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education.
Multilingualism is a source of strength and opportunity for humanity. It embodies our cultural diversity and encourages the exchange of views, the renewal of ideas and the broadening of our capacity to imagine.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General
Linguistic and cultural diversity represent universal values that strengthen the unity and cohesion of societies. That is why UNESCO’s Director-General, in launching IMLD 2013, will reinforce the importance of this core message and specifically highlight this year’s theme of access to books and digital media in local languages.
UNESCO’s Member States worldwide are key actors in the promotion of mother tongues through their national institutions and associations. The media, schools, universities and cultural associations play an active part in promoting the IMLD goals.
Using the slogan “Books for Mother tongue education”, IMLD 2013 aims to remind key stakeholders in education that in order to to support mother tongue education, it is essential to support the production of books in local languages.
The importance of written materials in mother tongues
Mother tongue education in its broader sense refers to the use of mother tongues in the home environment and in schools. Language acquisition and mother tongue literacy should ideally be supported by written resources such as - but not limited to - books, primers and textbooks, to support oral activities. Written materials in mother tongues reinforce learners’ literacy acquisition and build strong foundations for learning.
Today, a great number of languages lack a written form, yet progress has been...