Friday, July 24, 2015

UNESCO literacy prizes for Mozambique & Madagascar

On Wednesday 22 July, UNESCO announced the recipients of the 2015 prizes for literacy efforts. Organizations in five countries (of which two in Africa - Madagascar and Mozambique) each received one of two categories of prizes:
  • The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize (2 annually)
    • Associação Progresso, Mozambique
    • National Institute of Education
      National Institute of Education, Sri Lanka
  • The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy (3 annually)
    • La Plateforme des associations chargées de l’ASAMA et du post-ASAMA, Madagascar
    • La Escuela Juan Luis Vives de Valparaíso, Chile
    • Svatobor, Slovakia

King Sejong Literacy Prize

Of the two prizes, the King Sejong prize, named after the Korean monarch who designed Hangul (the Korean script), "gives special consideration to the promotion of mother-tongue languages in developing countries."

The Associação Progresso was described in the UNESCO release as "a Mozambican nongovernmental organization recognized for its effective ‘Literacy in Local Languages, Springboard for Gender Equality’ programme in Mozambican languages. It has achieved good results by building on international standards and research, training facilitators and involving the community in designing, monitoring and improving delivery."

Some background on Associação Progresso is available in a 2009 report mentioning its activities:*
“This case involves a partnership between Associação Progresso in Mozambique, and CODE, a Canadian organisation specialised in the promotion of quality primary education. Progresso and CODE have been working to increase the quality of education in the two Northern provinces of Mozambique for over 15 years. The activities in their joint programme, 'Promotion of a Literate Environment in Mozambique,' include the provision of reading and learning materials in Portuguese and local languages, skills development for primary teachers and adult literacy teachers, and training of education officers in specialised functions such as education planning, in-service training, and the monitoring of teaching and learning.

Progresso and CODE work in close cooperation with the Mozambican Ministry of Education and Culture at the national and provincial levels. Their experience and innovative practices have influenced government policy, notably through the inclusion of a bilingual curriculum in the Government of Mozambique’s Education Sector Strategic Plan. ...”
It is unfortunate that such descriptions do not name the languages involved. If the activities are still concentrated in the north of the country, the languages might include for example: Makhuwa; Lomwe; Yao; and Nyanja.

Confucius Prize for Literacy 

The other prize, named after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, recognizes "the activities of outstanding individuals, governments or governmental agencies and NGOs whose work in literacy serves rural adults and out-of-school youth, particularly women and girls." Often these also involve first languages.

According to the UNESCO release, La Plateforme des associations chargées de l’ASAMA et du post-ASAMA (Platform of Associations in Charge of ASAMA** and Post-ASAMA) is "an NGO in Madagascar that developed a comprehensive approach to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by establishing partnerships between the national authorities and 66 other NGOs. The programme provides a range of literacy courses for illiterates who account for 40% of the population, technical and vocational training at all levels and supports graduates in their efforts to find employment or start their own business."

It is not specified which language or languages are used, and I haven't found further information on that question elsewhere, but it may include literacy in Malagasy.

Past African winners of UNESCO literacy prizes

In past years, other African organizations have also received UNESCO literacy prizes. A list of African awardees over the previous seven years is presented below, with brief information on languages, where available.

Year King Sejong Literacy Prize Confucius Prize for Literacy
2014L’Association pour la promotion de l’éducation non formelle du Burkina Faso (BF-APENF), Burkina Faso.
- "activities in five local languages"
L’Association algérienne d’alphabétisation « IQRAA » (which means "read" in Arabic), Algeria.

Bridges to the Future initiative of Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy, South Africa & International Literacy Institute, USA.
- "reaches primary school children and illiterate adults through a specially designed multilingual computer program that tries to bring a more cohesive learning experience to the learner."
2013 La Fédération des associations de promotion des langues du Guéra, Chad
- literacy in maternal languages of Guéra region
Savoir pour mieux vivre (SAPOMIVIE), Ivory Coast.
- literacy in maternal languages and a publication "translated into 23 languages including Senufo and Bambara. Maninka, Attié, Abidji, Kulango or Dan syllabaries are used." (Gban is also mentioned) 

Directorate of Adult Education of the Ministry of Education, Namibia
- "basic literacy course consists of a 3-year training, averaging some 240 hours per annum. The first two years combine basic mother tongue functional literacy, offered in eleven local languages and life skills. English is introduced during the third part of the training."
2012 National Adult Literacy Programme, Pentecostal Church, Rwanda.
- (no specific mention of languages)

(Honorable mention)
Programme d’alphabétisation fonctionnelle à l’intention des femmes et des filles à travers des groupes de femmes et la formation tout au long de la vie of the Direction de l’alphabétisation et de l’éducation des adultes, Niger.
- "covers not only reading, writing and counting in the mother tongues but also life skills and practical and productive activities"

(Honorable mention)
Programme d’alphabétisation et de post-alphabétisation : autonomisation et intégration socio-économique des femmes marocaines of the Direction de l’élimination de l’analphabétisme, Morocco
- (no specific mention of languages) 
(no African recipients this year)
2011 Service national d’alphabétisation, Burundi.
- "The government-funded courses take place in more than 900 centres across the country and are delivered in the national language, Kirundi."
Collectif ALPHA UJUVI, D.R. Congo.
- "... Peace Hut scheme ... runs alongside literacy classes for adults and young people in both Swahili and French."
2010 General Directorate of Adult Training, Cape Verde.
- "Portuguese language lessons draw on real life in Cape Verde and are held in the national language, Crioulo, in all of the 17 education and adult education centres scattered throughout the archipelago."
Females for Families program of the Governrate of Ismailia, Egypt.
- (no specific mention of languages)

(Honorable mention)
Women Land Rights Project, Coalition of Women Farmers, Malawi.
-  (no specific mention of languages)
2009 Tin Tua, Burkina Faso.
- "curriculum in five local languages covering basic literacy and numeracy skills along with practical knowledge about health, hygiene, human rights, gender and farming."
(no African recipients this year)

2008 Reflect and HIV/AIDS program of People's Action Forum, Zambia.
- "The Jury admired the association’s use of local languages in teaching the rural women in their literacy programmes to be autonomous, following the motto: 'rather than wait for government to decide, people should be involved in the decision-making process.'"
Adult and Non-Formal Education Association (ANFEAE), Ethiopia.

Operation Upgrade, South Africa.

[information on the above two awardees from Wikipedia]

* Réal Lavergne and Jacqueline Wood, "Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness: Exploration of Experience and Good Practice. A Reference Document" (2nd ed.), Prepared for the Advisory Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness, August 31, 2009.
** ASAMA stands for Asa sekoly avotra ho an'ny Malagasy in Malagasy and Action Scolaire d'Appoint pour les Malagasy Adolescent in French.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that people at last as raising the question of which language literacy is in.

As a Welsh-speaker I'm very concerned that the whole Third World sector in the UK is there to promote English. This isn't necessarily done with malise or even self-awareness, English is just built into the structure of the work with the local Africans speaking 'dialect' what ever that may be.

Funding education, as I used to contribute to, seems to mean funding education in English. Which, essentially means undermining he local intellectual and publishing economy. If books and websites were written in African languages then there would be a call and need for local on the ground African translators, designers, writers, web developers etc. It would lead to a huge shift in power, prestige and yes, jobs, from white monoglots (or Africans who've 'forgotten' their languages) to indigenous people from poorer backgrounds. it would be as effective as a minimum wage or any 'positive discrimination' policy, with the added bonus that anyone can learn a language too.

So, I've stopped giving to the charity i did support.

I've seen the effects of pro-English policies and anti-Welsh policies and then built-in pro-English structures on my language. I'm not going to support it in Africa too.


Don said...

Thank you (belatedly) for this comment and perspective. Interesting to have the comparison of language in Wales (one might add Scotland and Ireland) with Africa. I think you are correct that putting out projects that advance English and ignore first languages (and local lingua francas) are not done with an explicit plan to impose English and decrease use of African languages. But these programs, in combination with "English fever," conspire to eclipse first languages from two aides - supply and demand. Which is not to suggest that English or other Europhone languages or for that matter other non-African languages like Chinese, are not valuable to learn and teach, but rather that the balance is skewed towards Europhone "languages of wider communication" and away from what one might call "languages of deeper communication" (mother tongues). I've argued elsewhere that this is not a zero-sum situation - it is not necessary to structurally discourage African language education in order to facilitate learning of/in English etc., and in fact research on MTB/MLE shows the benefits of attention to both.