24.02.2014 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Celebration of International Mother Language Day 2014 in Indonesia

©The Ministry of Education and Culture

On 21 February 2014 International Mother Language Day 2014 was celebrated in Indonesia at the Ministry of Education and Culture (Jakarta). The event was organized by Ministry of Education and Culture, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Jakarta, and UNESCO Office, Jakarta. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Following a Saman Dance performance by students of Labschool Rawamangun Senior Secondary School, opening remarks were delivered. Prof. Dr. Arief Rachman, MPd (Executive Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO) explained that celebration of this day was initiated by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for Indonesia. Prof. Rachman welcomed everyone, and specifically expressed his appreciation for the participation of representatives from the distant areas of Merauke and Palangkaraya.

Prof. Hubert J. Gijzen (Director and Representative of UNESCO Office, Jakarta) clarified that learning in one’s first language enables a learner to learn more effectively, and also helps later to learn a second language. There is also growing awareness that languages play a vital role in the process of integration into all aspects of public life. As we work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals while mapping out a post-2015 sustainable development agenda, diversity can encourage dialogue, mutual understanding, innovation and creativity. This in turn can help us build more just and inclusive societies. Therefore, UNESCO promotes Inclusive Education, and mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual approaches in education. Commemoration of International Mother Language Day will also celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity as a means to achieving national unity, peace and equitable development. The official message of the Director General of UNESCO was disseminated to the participants.

H.E. Mr. Md. Nazmul Quaunine (Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for Indonesia) explained the historical linkage of Bangladesh and the International Mother Language Day. Mr. Quaunine emphasized that it is in the greater interest of mankind to preserve as many mother tongues as possible and live in an environment of linguistic diversity and harmony. As iterated by the Honorable President of Bangladesh, “The spirit of the language movement is rested in honoring others’ language and culture being imbued with own language and tradition.”

Dr. Sugiyono (Head of the Center for Language Development and Protection, Indonesian National Board for Language Development, MoEC), on behalf of Prof. Dr. Mahsun, M.S. (Head of the Indonesian National Board for Language Development), highlighted the fact that the number of people using mother languages in Indonesia is decreasing, while the number of people using the Indonesian language and foreign languages is increasing. In this regard, mother languages are encouraged to be used in homogenous classes to facilitate the teaching-learning process. Dr. Sugiyono sequentially officially opened the event.

Presentations and panel discussions were held on preserving the mother tongues of Indonesia by Ms. Multamia RMT Lauder and Mr. Allan F. Lauder (University of Indonesia), and on the language policy and languages in the national education system by Dr. Sugiyono. Performances in poem reading in the mother tongues of Banjar, Toraja, and North Maluku were delivered by students of the Islamic Amalina Junior Secondary School. A Mocopat dancing performance was presented by students of the Public Junior Secondary School No. 8 Solo. Bangladeshi children beautifully sung the Bengali Song.

A press conference was held prior to the celebration.


For further information, please contact:
Dr. Mee Young Choi, Head of the Education Unit, UNESCO Office, Jakarta (my.choi(at)unesco.org)

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