What's the article about?
- It talks about the significance of mother-tongues in preserving our culture, history, science, and heritage.
- GS1: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India;
- GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector Education, Human Resources;
- In November 1999, UNESCO declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day.
- This is done in response to the declining state of many languages all over the world.
- This year’s theme – “Multilingual education — a necessity to transform education,” underscores the importance of using multiple languages in framing an impactful system of education.
- India is an ancient repository of hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects with rich linguistic and cultural diversity.
- These native languages are key to India's vast knowledge resources. Thus we must give importance to preserving our mother languages.
Why is preserving mother languages important?
- Homeland of our innermost thoughts:
- It is in our mother tongue that we express, with authenticity, our deepest thoughts, feelings, values and ideals, as also our literary endeavours.
- Our languages, which are an integral part of our ancient culture, give us a sense of identity.
- On the brink of extinction:
- More than 40 of our dialects and languages have fewer than 10,000 users.
- The situation is equal from all over the world with 40 percent of the speakers of 6,700 languages not having access to education in their mother tongue.
- Declining Multilingual education and rising dominance of English language:
- Several studies have shown the importance of multilingual education in upholding cultural and linguistic diversity.
- Educators and parents continue to accord unquestioned primacy to English and, as a result, the child is compelled to study his or her mother tongue as a “second/third language” at school.
- This emphasis on English has, ironically, made the educational system exclusive and restrictive.
- As a result, while limiting the acquisition of knowledge in technical and professional courses, to a select few, we made it inaccessible to a vast majority of our students.
Famous Leaders on the importance of mother-tongue:
Initiatives taken by government to promote and preserve mother languages:
- The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a farsighted document which advocates education in one’s mother tongue right from the primary-school level.
- A number of studies have shown that children who learn in their mother tongue in their formative years perform better than those taught in an alien language.
- The NEP’s emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in students belonging to poor, rural and tribal backgrounds.
- AICTE's landmark decision to permit BTech programmes in 11 native languages.
- In a survey conducted by AICTE in February last year of over 83,000 students, nearly 44 percent voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue, highlighting its necessity.
- The UGC has written to governors and chief ministers of various states to give a fillip to measures for the promotion of mother tongue education in colleges and universities.
- It is also heartening that the Staff Selection Commission has decided to conduct examinations in 13 Indian languages in addition to Hindi and English.
- Similarly, the Supreme Court’s decision to make verdicts accessible in all Indian languages is of great significance.
- The Government of India is running a scheme known as “Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages” for conservation of threatened languages.
- The process of content creation in mother languages, especially with respect to technical and professional courses, must be hastened.
- The mother tongue is analogous to eyesight, and spectacles are analogous to other languages; spectacles can only function properly if there is eyesight.
- Let us remember this analogy whether we are policymakers, administrators, or teachers.