Referring to her government’s steps for upholding the dignity of mother language, Sheikh Hasina said her government is working relentlessly to ensure the use of Bangla at all levels and sectors of Bangladesh.

“We’re also working for proper preservations of the mother languages of various ethnic minorities,” she said.

The premier said due to timely initiatives of her government, the UNESCO on November 17 in 1999 declared 21 February as the International Mother Language Day in memory of the martyrs of the great Language Movement.

“When we got this recognition, we took a decision that we will set up an international mother language institute and accordingly, I along with the then UN secretary general Kofi Annan laid its foundation stone on March 15 in 2001,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said but the BNP-Jamaat alliance after coming to power in 2001 stopped its work. “Not only they stopped the work of the International Mother Language Institute, but also cancelled all development projects that we had taken,” she said.

The prime minister said with a huge mandate of the people the Awami League formed the government in 2009 again and resumed the work of the institute.

“We passed the International Mother Language Institute Law in 2010 and on 21 February the same year, I inaugurated the Institute building … we want to strengthen the institute further,” she said.

The prime minister said a language museum has already been set up at the International Mother Language Institute and it is gradually getting rich.

“Our language movement, the historic 7 March speech of Bangabandhu and the speech delivered by the United Nations in Bangla and the identities of languages of Asia, Australia and the Pacific countries have been displayed in the museum,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina hoped that all the mother tongues of the world will soon find a decoration place on the walls of the museum.

The premier said the International Mother Language Institute has already been accredited as Category II Institute of UNESCO. “Through this recognition, our love for language has got widened in the world,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said she wants to set up a trust fund for the institute alongside conducting its regular activities like curriculum and giving fellowships or scholarships.

“We want to constitute the trust fund as we had seen that after the changing of the government in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government had halted the works of many projects that we launched … we want to do it so that none can close down it anymore,” she said.

The prime minister said her government wants to make an arrangement so that the people intending to learn different languages can learn those languages through the institute after paying a fee. “But we’ll provide fellowship or scholarship to them,” she said.

“Our government will provide seed money for the trust and will provide fellowship or scholarship from the interest of the money for learning languages,” she added.

Remembering the glorious history of the Language Movement, the prime minister said: “In fact, immortal Ekushey has taught us sense of self-dignity and not to bow down the heads.”

Putting emphasis on teaching that history to generations after generations, Sheikh Hasina said the day is very important for the nation as independence of the country was written by the letters of its (Ekushey) blood.

Sheikh Hasina said the immortal Ekushey is a bright and great chapter of the thousand year’s history of Bangalee’s glorious struggles.

“Such sacrifice of the patriot Bangalee for establishing the dignity and honor of the mother tongue is quite rare in the world history,” she said, adding the glorious history should be reached new generations.

Referring to Bangabandhu’s outstanding contributions to the Language Movement, the prime minister said he got involved in the movement at the beginning of the language movement.

She mentioned that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib then said no nation can tolerate the humiliation of mother tongue. According to his proposal in 1948, the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad (State Language Movement Committee) was formed in association with Chhatra League, Tamddun Majlis and other student organizations.

The premier said Bangabandhu was the main driving force in all subsequent movements and he had to endure a lot of persecution while fighting for the mother tongue.

“You all know that history. The Father of the Nation has written that sequential history in his ‘Unfinished Memoirs’ and ‘Karagarer Rojnamcha (Prison Diary),” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government is taking Bangladesh forward in various fields including education, culture, economic and information technology.

“Bangladesh is moving fast and it will continue to advance and the graduated to a developing country from a least developed one … our aim is to a hunger-and-poverty-free Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu and Insha Allah we could achieve the goal by keeping up the success,” she said.

The prime minister said: “The year 2020 is a particularly important year in our national life as the birth centenary of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is going to be celebrated.”

“The celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of our Independence and the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation will continue simultaneously in 2021,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina reiterated her determination to light up every house of the country within Mujib Borsho. “There will not be a single person to remain homeless, hungry, illiterate and without treatment,” she said.

Five children of four countries– India, Congo, Russian Federation and Bangladesh– thanked the prime minister in their own languages at the function.

At the function, the premier unveiled the publication of the international phonetic alphabet of Bangabandhu’s historic March 7 speech and the publication of his historic January 10 homecoming day speech in sign language and Brail letters.

Later, the prime minister visited the office of the National Implementation Committee for the Celebration of the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the International Mother Language Institute.

Chairman of the committee National Professor Mohammad Rafiqul Islam and Chief Coordinator Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury greeted the premier by presenting her with a bouquet.

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina inaugurated a mural of Bangabandhu on the institute premises. Prime Minister’s Assignment Officer Arifuzzaman Nurnabi constructed the mural.

The prime minister later visited a photo and painting exhibition on Bangabandhu at Shilpakala Academy in Segunbaghicha.

Accompanied by Sheikh Rehana and Saima Wazed Hossain, Sheikh Hasina saw with keen interest different historic photos and paintings on the Father of the Nation.

The exhibition titled “Lightning the Fire of Freedom Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” has been presented by the Centre for Research and Information and produced by Samdani Art Foundation.

The exhibition is a part of Dhaka Art Summit which was held at the Shilpakala Academy from February 7-15.

The exhibition will continue till March 31 marking the Mujib Borsho, the organisers said.