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Mosud Mannan: Education Always in High Esteem in Bangladesh

While in our editorial office as a guest, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Bangladesh to Uzbekistan, Mosud Mannan, has answered our questions and told UT readers about an important date in the history of his country.

“In February, Bangladesh annually celebrates International Mother Language Day. What is the importance of this day for Bengalis?”

The International Mother Language Day is observed on 21 February. On that day in 1952, students were killed in Dhaka during a peaceful protest, demanding dignity for Bangla, the mother tongue of the Bengalis. The youth of 1952, who rose against language discrimination, emblematized the spirit and identity of the Bengali people. Every spring, on 21 February, in Bangladesh, we go to the monument called the Shaheed Minar to pay floral tributes to the martyrs of 1952 and to express how deeply we cherish our mother tongue, Bangla.

After the division of Indian Subcontinent into India and Pakistan, the territory of today’s Bangladesh came under the rule of Pakistan government and was called East Pakistan. The central government of undivided Pakistan did not recognize Bangla as a state language despite the fact that 55 percent of its population was Bengalis. Such a discriminative policy created discontent among the majority of the new country’s population. The Language Movement had a definite purpose: to make Bangla one of the state languages of erstwhile Pakistan. During the Bangla Language Movement, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a leader of Student Association of Dhaka University, and for his active role he was often taken to jail. However, the government of erstwhile Pakistan was unable to eradicate the legitimate longing of Bengalis for seeing Bangla as one of the state languages.

The momentous events that took place in the campus of Dhaka Medical College on 21 February 1952 became the ground for the occasion we call today as International Mother Language Day. On that day, the ruling power opened fire on the students who were holding a protest against the government’s discriminative policies. Under the immense pressure of the public, Pakistan’s government had to recognize Bangla as the state language of the undivided Pakistan. The idea of eternalizing the memories of the events of February 1952 by declaring 21 February as the International Mother Language Day was proposed by Honb’le Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the late Father of the Nation Bangabandhu. At the annual UNESCO meeting in Paris in 1996. Three years later, on 17 November 1999, UNESCO declared 21 February the International Mother Language Day.

Annual celebration of International Mother Language Day is a perfect occasion for people to appreciate the treasure they are blessed with – mother tongue. Traditionally, on this day, people in Bangladesh go to the monument called Shaheed Minar to pay floral tribute to the martyrs of 21st February 1952.

“As part of preparation for the International Mother Language Day, UNESCO annually declares the theme of the year, which attracts a particular attention. 2017 has been designated as the one facilitating a movement “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. What objectives does Bangladesh see in the framework of this theme?”

First of all, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to UNESCO for highlighting education in IMLD theme for 2017. In the rapidly globalizing world, multilingual education has become key to success and extensive knowledge. There is a need for promoting education in the mother tongue as well as in other major languages of the world so that young people may adapt to the globalization process and acquire skills that will be best suited for their future needs. I believe that the concept of ‘multilingual education’ carries a message of learning more and in more than one language. Undoubtedly, this initiative is a great asset for the better future of the youth.

In Bangladesh, education is held at very high esteem. At present, majority of Bengali students are being educated through both Bangla and English. From a country with only 6 public universities and 26 percent of literate population at its emergence, now Bangladesh has over 125 public and private universities and around 70% of the population is literate. Some of the effective initiatives undertaken by the government of Bangladesh in order to attain universal education include distribution of free textbooks among 100 percent students (around 360 million copies) and introduction of scholarship schemes from primary to secondary levels to encourage female participation. Bangladesh’s commitment to education has been clearly stated in her Constitution and development plans with education being given priority in the public sector investment. In the current tenure of the government led by Honb’le Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, school textbooks written in the languages of the indigenous ethnic groups in Bangladesh have been published and distributed free of charge.

“We believe that as Ambassador of Bangladesh you have already worked out or even started implementing the Action Plan for bilateral cooperation between our countries in 2017. What can you tell about that in more detail?”

2017 is the fourth year of my tenure in Uzbekistan. Within this period of more than three years, the relations between this country and Bangladesh have seen advancement in many spheres and showed a steady potential for development in the future. I am glad to point out that shortly after the Hon’ble President Shavkat Mirziyoyev took office, the first delegation from Uzbekistan led by the deputy governor of Samarkand region visited Bangladesh. The Uzbek government has shown keen interest in learning from Bangladesh’s success in RMG production. The trip is expected to pave the way for mutually beneficial cooperation. Our Embassy in Tashkent has also planned to publish a book on economic development and investment prospects of Bangladesh, to reveal the immense possibilities for business the country has to offer.

Speaking about cultural cooperation for 2017, our diplomatic mission is intending to receive a music troupe from Bangladesh for participation in Sharq Taronalari Festival of Eastern Melodies in Samarkand. The Embassy has also planned a number of cultural activities for the coming months of 2017. As part of National Day celebrations, we would like to organize a photography exhibition on the Architecture of Bangladesh, to raise the interest of Uzbek public in visiting our beautiful and historical land. We are also planning to display during our National Day celebrations a collection of Bangladesh’s exquisite Jamdani saris. I believe that in the course of the year, our activities will be significantly extended with programs prepared by both the host government and the Embassy. We will enjoy seeing reports on them in the regular publications of Uzbekistan Today!
Katta rahmat.  
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