WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 21, 2009 – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) marks International Mother Language Day and recognizes the great importance of safeguarding the linguistic and cultural heritage of the rich and diverse Macedonian language. The Macedonian language, diverse in dialects, is spoken by an estimate of over 4.5 million people worldwide most notably in the Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, and Serbia, with several hundreds of thousands in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the U.S. “UMD urges Macedonians to preserve our rich language and heritage and to ensure its continuation for many generations to come,” stated Metodija A. Koloski, UMD President, “it is important for our younger generations to learn the Macedonian language.”
According to the United Nations, “languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.”
UMD calls upon the Macedonian Ministry of Education to further develop Macedonian learning materials and ensure dissemination of such materials to the global Macedonian Diaspora communities for instructions in their community centers, churches, and institutions. UMD also urges the Macedonian Ministry of Education to develop a grant program to fund and further develop Macedonian language instruction at world colleges and universities, including already-existing programs at the University of Toronto, Macquarie University, Indiana University, University of Chicago and Illinois, and Arizona State University.
Furthermore, UMD expressed concern regarding the decreasing numbers of Macedonian language speakers in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. Koloski noted that “in these countries, there are no Macedonian language schools; in Albania and Kosovo, the governments do not grant their Macedonian minorities Macedonian language instruction; in Bulgaria, the government does not recognize a distinct Macedonian language, thus Macedonians in Bulgaria are not granted instruction in their own language; in Serbia, the government does not see the need given that the languages are similar; and finally in Greece, the government does not recognize the existence of a distinct Macedonian national identity or language.” UMD urges these countries to uphold civil rights of their own Macedonian minorities and to grant them access to Macedonian language instructions through government funding and projects.
CORRECTION: Albania does grant Macedonian language education in certain villages and towns, however, more must be done to ensure all Macedonians in Albania have the right to language instruction in Macedonian.
Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is the leading international non-governmental organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.
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