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FEBRUARY 21, 2024

As an organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of community languages, ACLS observes International Mother Language Day with a profound respect for linguistic and cultural diversity. We understand that languages are not merely tools of communication but are the keys to the maintenance of heritage, culture, knowledge, and identity. ACLS commends the community language schools and their teachers who work tirelessly to preserve their mother languages and reaffirm our commitment to promoting inclusivity, respect, and appreciation for all languages and cultures.

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. At the initiative of Bangladesh, 21 February was declared International Mother Language Day by UNESCO on 17th November 1999.  The declaration pays tribute to Bangladeshi students who, on 21 February 1952 (in what was then East Pakistan), were shot dead by police while protesting the decision to impose Urdu as the only state language, despite Bangladeshis having their own distinct and rich mother language, Bangla.

Since 2000, International Mother Language Day has been observed throughout the world to promote linguistic and cultural diversity in recognition that ‘multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages’(, and it is through languages that traditional knowledge and cultures are maintained.

The theme for 2024, Multilingual education: a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning, is particularly fitting for community language schools as it reminds us that, ‘… multilingual education enhances learning when the language of instruction is the learner’s first language. The use of learners’ own languages for literacy and learning provides a solid pillar for education, and for transfer of skills and knowledge to additional languages. Learning in one’s first language facilitates understanding and interaction, and further develops critical thinking. It strengthens self-confidence and self-esteem and stimulates active participation. In addition to boosting learning, multilingual education contributes to opening the doors to intergenerational learning, the preservation of culture and intangible heritage, and the revitalization of languages.’ (

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