The Embassy of The United Arab Emirates Celebrates International Mother Language Day 2023 at The North American International School in Pretoria

Ms. Alsuwaidi Counsellor at the UAE Embassy, reads an Arabic story to a student at North American International School

By Susan Novela
27 February 2023

The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates celebrated the richness and beauty of the global linguistic tapestry on the International Mother
Language Day 2023 at the North American International School Pretoria.

The function aimed at increasing awareness of the Arabic language. This
is particularly important as language is fundamental to all communication that facilitates change and development in human society.

February 21 is International Mother Language Day. The International Mother Language Day was created at a time when linguistic diversity was under threat. It has been observed every year since 2000 when it was proclaimed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in November 1999.

International Mother Language Day is celebrated to spread awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity, and to promote multilingualism.

My language, my identity says Ms. Alsuwaidi in celebrating the International Mother Language Day

Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. Studying how people use language – what words and phrases they unconsciously choose and combine can help us better understand ourselves and why we behave the way we do.

The theme for this year was “Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education.”

Ms. Alsuwaidi interacts with students

It is quite instructive that South Africa has 11 official languages and many more unofficial languages that are protected by the constitution.

This is in recognition of the fact that language is an important part of culture and identity, as well as being essential for communication and education.

The Arabic language is a pillar of humanity’s cultural diversity. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, used daily by more than 400 million people. World Arabic Language Day is celebrated every year on 18 December since 2012.
The date coincides with the day in 1973 that the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Arabic as the
sixth official language of the Organization.

Ms. Alsuwaidi with the students at the North American International school

In various diverse forms, classic or dialectal, and from oral expression to poetic calligraphy, the Arabic language has given rise to a fascinating aesthetic in fields as varied as architecture, poetry, philosophy and music.

It opens up access to an incredible variety of
identities and beliefs, and its history reveals the richness of it’s links with other languages.

Arabic has played a catalytic role in knowledge – promoting the dissemination of Greek and Roman sciences and philosophies to Renaissance Europe. It has enabled a dialogue among cultures along the silk roads, from the coast of India to the Horn of Africa.

Ms Fatima Alsuwaidi, Counsellor at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates said the Embassy organized the event at the North American International School to celebrate the diversity of languages and to encourage Arabic speaking pupils to maintain their knowledge of their mother language as well to learn the use of other languages.

Ms. Alsuwaidi asserted an important sine qua non for progress in mother tongue-based multilingual education; “Languages are essential tools for communication and knowledge sharing, memory, and history. Furthermore, they are also keys to full and equal participation.

One of the most effective ways of empowering children is to encourage them to use their language in education, particularly as a medium of instruction as long as it is practical, and to provide public
services and employment opportunities in these languages,” she intimated.

The Arabic language’s beauty continues to amaze linguists around the world. This is because it contains sounds in its diction that are alien. to the Western world. Consequently, this has created an aversion towards learning it. However, the experience of learning it has surprised a growing number of enthusiasts who were initially attracted to it to facilitate trade with Middle Eastern countries.

Ms. Alsuwaidi took time to read story books in Arabic and provided the students with literacy and numeracy skills. The UAE Embassy donated books and materials to the children as tools for learning and understanding Arabic.


Also Published in the Pretoria News on 27 February 2023

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