Language experts converge at UNIC for Mother Language Day 2018

On Thursday 22 February, scores of people, who included government officials, language experts, authors, UN staff, NGO and civil society representatives convened at the UN Information Centre in Harare to commemorate Mother Language Day 2018.

The focus of this day was SDG 4, ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In his opening remarks, Dr Abdoul Coulibaly, UNESCO Education Programme Specialist said the Agency supports language policies and recommends the use of mother language for better understanding. Dr Coulibaly said everyone has a right to access information in a language of their choice.

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Makanda, a Director in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said there is need to link language to the economy. This can be done by branding locally produced goods in local languages. Such initiatives have already started around traditional brews, seeds, milk and other products. Currently, the Chinese have done very well exporting their language thereby bringing it into foreign economies, Dr Makanda said.

The two-hour commemoration was punctuated by poems in Koisan, performed by Davy Ndlovhu, a San and one of the few remaining Koisan speakers and author, and by Maretha Dube, a speaker of Sesotho and author of several books used in the Ministry of Education’s school curriculum.

UNIC organised this commemoration in conjunction with UNESCO and Children in Performing Arts Workshop (CHIPAWO).

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62). The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution A/RES/56/262 of 2002.

On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism and named the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the Year.