The day has been celebrated yearly since 2002. For every year, this day is linked with a theme. This year (2023), the theme is “Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education”. Under this theme, special emphasis on indigenous people’s education and languages is called for. All over the world experts agree that mother tongue is valuable due to several reasons. Mother tongue is vital in children’s cognitive development as well as reasonable thinking and emotional balance of people. Being fluent in the mother tongue, alternatively known as the native language, benefits the child in numerous ways. It connects him to his culture and helps in learning other additional languages.
Researchers are showing concern that children across the developing world are learning very little in school, a reality that can be linked to teaching that is in a language they do not fully understand. It is a practice that leads to limited or non-existent learning and acquisition of knowledge and skills, alienating experiences, and high drop-out and repetition rates. To improve the quality of education, language policies need to take account of mother-tongue learning. Models of education which ignore mother tongue in early years may prove unproductive and ineffective, having a negative effect on children’s learning. Mother-tongue education, at least in early years, can enable teachers to teach and learners to learn more effectively. An oft-quoted sentence of great Nelson Mandela is, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. Studies have reported evidences on how language of instruction can adversely affect children’s learning, if the preferred language is not their mother tongue.