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Saturday, February 21, 2015

International Mother Language Day

February 21 is International Mother Language Day. On 21 February 1952, students from the University of Dhaka, Jagannath University, and Dhaka Medical College were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, Bangladesh during a Bengali Language Movement demonstration. The students wanted the Bengali language to be recognized as an official language in what was then Pakistan. Since that day, February 21 has been Language Movement Day in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan). February 21 was proclaimed International Mother Language Day at the 30th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), November 1999.

The 2015 theme for International Mother Language Day is Inclusive Education through and with Language - Language Matters. According to Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, "The focus for the post - 2015 agenda must fall on the priority of advancing quality education for all -- widening access, ensuring equality and inclusiveness, and promoting education for global citizenship and sustainable development. Education in the mother language is an essential part of achieving these goals -- to facilitate learning and to bolster skills in reading, writing and mathematics."

German, Norwegian, and Swedish were the native languages of some of my ancestors. Although she was born in the United States, my maternal grandmother Margaret Ann Schneider spoke only German until she was five years old. Her parents, German immigrants, spoke German at home.

International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day, Inclusive Education through and with Language - Language Matters
International Mother Language Day, 21 February

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