The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) International Mother Language Day is celebrated on 21 February worldwide (every year since 2000) to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Multilingualism means using multiple languages and it is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of globalisation and cultural openness. The Day promotes linguistic diversity and multilingual education, and to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance, and dialogue.
The Day represents the day in year 1952, when students demonstrating for the recognition of their language Bengali as one of the two national languages of Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, which is the capital city of present day Bangladesh.
On this day, the Linguapax Prize is awarded by the Linguapax Institute. The prize recognises and awards the actions carried out in different areas in favour of the preservation of linguistic diversity and reactivation of linguistic communities and the promotion of multilingualism. Candidates are individuals of the academic community and civil society.
Sign languages are the mother tongues of Deaf people all across the world. EUD guarantees, the right to use sign language is a basic human right. The full accessibility to sign language is essential for the fulfilment of other human rights, such as the right to education, information, or a fair trial. Without early accessibility to sign language programmes and an education that support the acquisition of sign language Deaf children will not be able to enjoy their basic human rights as a children and later as adults.
On International Mother Language Day, EUD urges policymakers across Europe to ensure the adequate protection of sign languages at European, national and regional level. Deaf children must have the right to education in the only language accessible to them, sign language.
The official website for international day:
Linguapax award´s website: