ISLAMABAD – International Mother Language Day 2013 was observed on Thursday in Pakistan and across the world.

This year the theme of the day was ‘Books for mother tongue education’ aiming to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism. International Mother Language Day was being observed every year since February 2000 to date across the globe including Pakistan.

Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova’s message on the occasion of the day was: “In this age of new technologies, books remain precious instruments, easy to handle, sturdy and practical for sharing knowledge, mutual understanding and opening the world to all.

Books are the pillars of knowledge societies and essential for promoting freedom of expression and education for all”.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in November 1999. Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Since 1950 at least 240 languages have died, according to the UNESCO. That’s a cultural extinction rate of one language every three months over the last 60 years. “The mother language, in which the first words are uttered and individual thought expressed, is the foundation for the history and culture of each individual. Moreover, it has been proven that children learn best when they are instructed in their mother language during their first years at school,” UNESCO says.

The concept of mother language complements that of multilingualism, which UNESCO strives to promote, by encouraging the acquisition of at least three levels of language proficiency: a mother language, a national language and a language of communication. The UNESCO stresses that Languages are the best vehicles of mutual understanding and tolerance. “Respect for all languages is a key factor for ensuring peaceful coexistence, without exclusion, of societies and all of their members.