Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

542Last year of the UN Literacy Decade

Expand Messages
  • bisharat_dot_net
    Mar 24, 2012
    • 0 Attachment
      Nine years ago I started this list with the thought that there needed to be some input into the UN Literacy Decade (UNLD) about multilingual dimensions of literacy in the world's many societies where people use multiple languages. The impetus was observation of how in many African countries, "literacy" is conflated with ability to read and write the official "Europhone" language (English, French, or Portuguese), and literacy in first languages is either not mastered by otherwise educated people or not counted when it is by anyone (or both).

      Yet multilingual literacy is a potential issue in several other contexts as well: education (language of instruction, quality of learning); language policy and planning; communication (the ability to avoid having to translate into and out of a second language to send a letter in the first language); cultural heritage (conveying and preserving in the heritage language); etc.

      With all this in mind and remembering that the main goal of this group was to help raise the profile of the issue in the UNLD discourse, we note among UNLD webpages the page focusing on the end of the decade, which has a link to a report from a 9-10 May 2011 literacy experts' meeting that discussed potential outputs of the assessment, data and information needs, appropriate instruments and process: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/education-building-blocks/literacy/un-literacy-decade/unld-end-of-decade-assessment/

      The report, at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002127/212735e.pdf , does not (in my reading appear to) mention "multilingual literacy" or literacy in multiple languages per se. However, there are some passages that mention topics relevant to this concern:

      * "literacy and language" being among the potential topics of papers that address cross-cutting issues in adult literacy (these papers are proposed as one of "four possible data collection instruments" for evaluation of the UNLD

      * Language was one of several examples mentioned under "equity" in one breakout groups discussion of cross-cutting themes of UNLD

      * Under "Covering key topics and regional perspectives" the following specific topic of research mentioned language: "Also mentioned is the political nature of literacy. Why a powerful entity might or might not want to promote literacy or promote literacy in a given language and context is an uneasy but important issue."

      * Also under Nine years ago I started this list with the thought that there needed to be some input into the UN Literacy Decade (UNLD) about multilingual dimensions of literacy in the world's many societies where people use multiple languages. The impetus was observation of how in many African countries, "literacy" is conflated with ability to read and write the official "Europhone" language (English, French, or Portuguese), and literacy in first languages is either not mastered by otherwise educated people or not counted when it is by anyone (or both).

      Yet multilingual literacy is a potential issue in several other contexts as well: education (language of instruction, quality of learning); language policy and planning; communication (the ability to avoid having to translate into and out of a second language to send a letter in the first language); cultural heritage (conveying and preserving in the heritage language); etc.

      With all this in mind and remembering that the main goal of this group was to help raise the profile of the issue in the UNLD discourse, we note among UNLD webpages the page focusing on the end of the decade, which has a link to a report from a 9-10 May 2011 literacy experts' meeting that discussed potential outputs of the assessment, data and information needs, appropriate instruments and process: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/education-building-blocks/literacy/un-literacy-decade/unld-end-of-decade-assessment/

      The report, at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002127/212735e.pdf , does not (in my reading appear to) mention "multilingual literacy" or literacy in multiple languages per se. However, there are some passages that mention topics relevant to this concern:

      * "literacy and language" being among the potential topics of papers that address cross-cutting issues in adult literacy (these papers are proposed as one of "four possible data collection instruments" for evaluation of the UNLD

      * Language was one of several examples mentioned under "equity" in one breakout groups discussion of cross-cutting themes of UNLD

      * Under "Covering key topics and regional perspectives" the following specific topic of research mentioned language: "Also mentioned is the political nature of literacy. Why a powerful entity might or might not want to promote literacy or promote literacy in a given language and context is an uneasy but important issue."

      * Also under Nine years ago I started this list with the thought that there needed to be some input into the UN Literacy Decade (UNLD) about multilingual dimensions of literacy in the world's many societies where people use multiple languages. The impetus was observation of how in many African countries, "literacy" is conflated with ability to read and write the official "Europhone" language (English, French, or Portuguese), and literacy in first languages is either not mastered by otherwise educated people or not counted when it is by anyone (or both).

      Yet multilingual literacy is a potential issue in several other contexts as well: education (language of instruction, quality of learning); language policy and planning; communication (the ability to avoid having to translate into and out of a second language to send a letter in the first language); cultural heritage (conveying and preserving in the heritage language); etc.

      With all this in mind and remembering that the main goal of this group was to help raise the profile of the issue in the UNLD discourse, we note among UNLD webpages the page focusing on the end of the decade, which has a link to a report from a 9-10 May 2011 literacy experts' meeting that discussed potential outputs of the assessment, data and information needs, appropriate instruments and process: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/education-building-blocks/literacy/un-literacy-decade/unld-end-of-decade-assessment/

      The report, at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002127/212735e.pdf , does not (in my reading appear to) mention "multilingual literacy" or literacy in multiple languages per se. However, there are some passages that mention topics relevant to this concern:

      * "Literacy and language" is among the potential topics of papers that address cross-cutting issues in adult literacy (these papers are proposed as one of "four possible data collection instruments" for evaluation of the UNLD) (pp. 3, 7)

      * Language was one of several examples mentioned under "equity" in one breakout group's discussion of cross-cutting themes of UNLD (p. 11)

      * "Multilingualism" is mentioned under another of the abovementioned cross-cutting themes, "literate environment and sustaining literacy" (p. 11)

      * Under "Covering key topics and regional perspectives" the following specific topic of research mentioned language: "Also mentioned is the political nature of literacy. Why a powerful entity might or might not want to promote literacy or promote literacy in a given language and context is an uneasy but important issue." (p. 13)

      * "Multilingualism" is mentioned as one example of "dimensions of literacy" to be addressed in questionnaires (p. 26)

      Given the widespread if not dominant spread of multilingualism / multilingual societies in the world, and the numerous countries where different scripts or dissimilar orthographies in the same script are used for text in the various languages people speak, it would seem that the case could still be made for a more explicit treatment of "multilingual literacy" or "literacy in multiple languages." If literacy is considered important for individual and social development, how can one not directly address the issue of literacy in multiple languages in contexts where people speak more than one language in the course of their regular activities? Is it ever right to condition or limit literacy skills?

      This could still be a significant discussion, wherever it take place.

      As regards this Multilingual Literacy list, I personally have not had the time I would like to have to devote to this topic and the list. That inattention, as well perhaps as the general move to forms of social media other than email lists/groups, has led to a kind of "atrophication" of this list over recent years.

      Nevertheless, Multilingual_Literacy list will continue to function at least through the formal end of the UNLD at the end of 2012. Substantive contributions and comments regarding the UNLD and multilingual dimensions of literacy are always welcome.

      Best to all,

      Don Osborn