One’s own language is his or her identity, the prime minister says on the occasion Ekushey February
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has put utmost importance on properly learning mother language, which protects the country’s history and tradition.
"For international communication, we have to learn other languages. We have to learn international communication medium, (but) along with that we have to learn our mother tongue too," she said on Sunday, while inaugurating a four-day program at the International Mother Language Institute in Shegunbagicha, Dhaka on the occasion of Language Martyrs’ Day and the International Mother Language Day 2021.
She joined the event virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban, UNB reported.
The premier further said a language was the identity of a person, and that identity gives honour.
She mentioned that during the Pakistan regime, there were several attempts on the Bangla language.
"At first, there was a move to write Bangla in Arabic letter, after that another move was made to write Bangla in Latin letters. I don't know what the problem was with Bangla words," she added.
The prime minister said all those moves were thwarted through struggle. "And following the path of this struggle, we attained our independence," she added.
Sheikh Hasina briefly described Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman involvement in the Language Movement.
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She said that once upon a time when she tried to describe Bangabandhu’s role in the Language Movement, many people, including the learned individuals, ridiculed her, asking how he was involved in the movement when he was in jail at that time.
"But why was he (Bangabandhu) sent to jail? It was for initiating the movement to make Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan," she was quoted by UNB.
She said that the Intelligence Branch of Pakistan, in their reports, had described all the movements of Bangabandhu for the Language Movement and those reports had been published gradually in the form of a book.
‘All world languages must be preserved’
The prime minister said her government had been working to ensure that no language across the world would face extinction, BSS reported.
“We have established the International Mother Language Institute (IMLI) so that other languages in the world can be preserved. We have taken the measure as no language will face extinction and their existence can be ensured,” she added.
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Mentioning that a language museum has been established in the IMLI, she said the samples of languages currently existing in the world alongside those which have already gone extinct had been preserved in the museum.
The premier stressed the need for collecting the history of the languages, so people who want to study or conduct research on those can easily do it.
She added that the International Mother Language Institute had brought good rapport for the country as it has done great work internationally.
The prime minister also thanked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) for its recognition of the International Mother Language Institute as a second-grade organization.
About preservation of the languages of small ethnic minority groups in Bangladesh, she said: “We have given special attention to preserve the languages of ethnic minority groups and to make sure they can study in their native languages.”
In this connection, she said, her government has been publishing school text books for ethnic minority groups in their native languages and distributing the books among them free of cost.
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‘Regret not being able to attend Mother Language Award'
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended the distribution ceremony of the International Mother Language Award through videoconference.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni handed over the awards among the recipients on behalf of the prime minister.
Sheikh Hasina expressed her heartfelt regret to the award recipients, especially to her teacher National Professor Rafiqul Islam, for not being able to hand over the awards personally at the program, UNB reported.
"You all are aware that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my movement has been restricted for health issues of the people involved, as hundreds of people are needed to be engaged for my movement (as the prime minister)," she added.
This is the first iteration of the biennial award, which recognized four recipients – two national and two international.
At the national level, the awardees are National Professor Rafiqul Islam and Mathura Bikash Tripura, executive director of Khagrachhari's Jabarang Kalyan Samity.
The international recipients are Uzbekistani researcher Islaimov Gulom Mirzaevich and The Activismo Lenguan, a Bolivia-based organization.