multilingualism

Putting SDG 4 Back on Track After COVID-19: The Essential Role of Multilingualism in Education

A High-Level Political Forum Side Event on 11 July 2022

co-hosted by the NGO Committee on Language and Languages, the Universal Esperanto Association, and the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations

Register here by July 10!

About:

Even before COVID-19, alarms were sounded that progress on SDG 4 was too slow and that the achievement of its targets by 2030 was in jeopardy. Linguistic inequality in access to education has been a key factor. The 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report showed that 40% of the global population was not accessing education in a language they understand. The onset of the pandemic exacerbated such inequalities as over 1.6 billion learners experienced school closures, cutting them off from language and literacy learning opportunities. Moreover, the digital divide prevented vulnerable populations, especially in least developed countries, from accessing online education, including resources for language development. In order to achieve inclusive and equitable education for linguistically diverse student populations, multilingualism must be foregrounded in post-pandemic educational planning.

Accordingly, this side event focuses on recommendations for the role of languages in education put forth in Reimagining Our Futures Together: A New Social Contract for Education, the UNESCO report on the Futures of Education initiative. Specifically, it brings together leading experts in the field of language education from diverse global contexts who address what it means in practice to take a multilingual perspective on the targets of SDG 4. Drawing upon empirical research and documented best practices, they demonstrate how schools can cultivate multilingual resources, including mother tongues, major world languages, national and regional languages, Indigenous languages, and international languages like Esperanto to achieve inclusive and equitable education that empowers students as global citizens prepared for participation in social, economic, and political life.

Programme:

  • Pedagogical Translanguaging to Make the Most of Multilingualism, Professor Jasone Cenoz, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU
  • Multilingualism as a Resource for Learning and a Decolonial Strategy, Dr. Xolisa Guzula, University of Capetown, School of Education

Moderated by Professor Humphrey Tonkin and Professor Francis M. Hult with welcoming remarks by Mr. Guillermo Escribano, Director General for the Spanish Language around the World at the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Spain

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CoNGO Notes: The NGO Committee on Language and Languages is a Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations – for more information, please email the co-chairs at tonkin@hartford.edu or fmhult@umbc.edu. Likewise, for more information on the NGO Committee on Social Development, please visit ngosocdev.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit facebook.com/NGOCELLatUN

Multilingualism and COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

The Study Group on Language and the United Nations presents

Multilingualism and COVID-19:

Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

A Virtual Symposium on 3-4 May 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a powerful impact on humanity.  In addition to the direct effects of infection, there has been a wide range of indirect effects on both individuals and social institutions throughout the world.  Pre-pandemic inequalities have been exacerbated, and new challenges have emerged as people attempt to cope with living and working through a public health crisis.  The United Nations is currently prioritizing ways forward, including how Agenda 2030 and the related work of continuing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be put back on track from the major setbacks of the pandemic, as emphasized in Our Common Agenda, the recent report by the Secretary-General and the focus of the upcoming July 2022 High-Level Political Forum.

The present symposium draws attention to the essential role that multilingualism must play in initiatives by the United Nations, Member States, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and other stakeholders to foster peri-pandemic and post-pandemic development.  Language mediates all human experience.  Fully inclusive dialogue and problem-solving must involve substantive use of multilingualism to ensure that people can understand one another, access information equitably, and participate democratically.  In addition, all development initiatives must take linguistic minorities into account explicitly so that “nobody is left behind” due to their language background.

The symposium focuses on multilingualism with respect to Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3) and Quality Education (SDG 4), with attention to linguistic challenges that have occurred during the pandemic as well as creative and inclusive solutions that have emerged and can be built upon going forward.  The two-day virtual event brings together a spectrum of stakeholders including United Nations staff members, government officials, university scholars, and members of civil society to address issues and innovations.  The symposium follows a panel format through which experts present their perspectives, engage in dialogue with each other, and prompt general discussion with participants.

Event Details

The symposium will take place virtually over two days:

Tuesday, 3 May – Focus on Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)

08:15-13:00 – New York
14:15-19:00 – Geneva
15:15-20:00 – Nairobi
19:15-12:00 – Bangkok

Wednesday, 4 May – Focus on Quality Education (SDG 4)

08:15-13:00 – New York
14:15-19:00 – Geneva
15:15-20:00 – Nairobi
19:15-12:00 – Bangkok

Programme

Tuesday, 3 May – Focus on Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)

8:15-8:30am Sign In

8:30-8:40am Welcoming Remarks

Humphrey Tonkin (NGO Committee on Language and Languages/Study Group on Language and the United Nations)

Joel Gómez (Center for Applied Linguistics)

8:45-9:00am Featured Speaker

Multilingualism and the Verified Initiative

Maher Nasser (UN Department of Global Communications – UNDGC, Outreach Division)

9:00am-10:25am Panel

Multilingualism for Equitable Healthcare Access and Knowledge Development

Francis M. Hult, moderator

Susie Sykes (London South Bank University)

Thomas Abel (University of Bern)

Stacy C. Bailey (Northwestern University)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

10:25-10:55am Break

11:00-11:15am Featured Speaker

Publishing for Sustainable Development: How and Why Springer Nature Supports the SDGs

Nicola Jones (Springer Nature, SDG Programme)

11:15-12:45pm Panel

COVID and The Challenges of Interpretation

Lisa McEntee Atalianis, moderator

Ning Ding (UN Department for General Assembly and Conference Management – UNDGACM, Interpretation Service)

Linda Fitchett (The International Association of Conference Interpreters)

Severine Hubscher-Davidson (The Open University)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

12:45-1:00pm Featured Speaker

Language, Health, and Justice: Measuring the Challenge

Mark Fettes (Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems/Esperantic Studies Foundation)

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Wednesday, 4 May – Focus on Quality Education (SDG 4)

8:15-8:30am Sign In

8:30-8:40am Opening Remarks

Humphrey Tonkin (NGO Committee on Language and Languages/Study Group on Language and the United Nations)

Liberato Bautista (Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations)

8:45-9:00am Featured Speaker

Multilingual Educational Initiatives during COVID-19

Noro Andriamiseza Ingarao (United Nations, Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – UNESCO, Education Sector)

9:00-10:30am Panel

Cross-national Responses to Multilingual Educational Challenges During COVID-19

Rosemary Salomone, moderator

Pille Poiklik (Ministry of Education and Research, Estonia)

Gisella Langé (Ministry of Education, Italy)

Paul Frank (SIL International)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

10:25-10:55am: Break

11:00-11:15am Featured Speaker

An Assets-Based Approach for Multilingual Learners

Joel Gómez (Center for Applied Linguistics)

11:15am-12:45pm Panel

Situated Multilingual Educational Practices in Response to COVID-19

Carol Benson, moderator

Ayé Clarisse Hager-M’Boua (Université Alassane Ouattara)

Baoqi Sun (National Institute of Education, Singapore)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

12:40-1:00pm Closing Panel

Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

Humphrey Tonkin, moderator

Carol Benson (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Francis M. Hult (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Lisa McEntee-Atalianis (Birkbeck, University of London)

Rosemary Salomone (St. John’s University)

Symposium Sponsors

The symposium is held in cooperation with the NGO Committee on Language and Languages, a substantive committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), and made possible by generous support and assistance from

Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF)

Springer Nature

Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems (CED)

Consortium for Language Policy and Planning (CLPP)

International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC)

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CoNGO Notes: This event is held the NGO Committee on Language and Languages, a substantive committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO). Learn more about this Committee and how you may collaborate with it by visiting substantive committees.

International Day for Universal Access to Information

On 17 November 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared 28 September as International Day for Universal Access to Information. Considering that several civil society organizations and government bodies in the world have adopted and currently celebrate this observance, the UN General Assembly also adopted 28 September 2019 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

UNESCO and its intergovernmental programs – the International Programme for Development of Communication and the Information for All Programme – provide a platform and frame for all the stakeholders to participate in international discussions on policy and guidelines in the area of access to information. Both programs also enable positive environment for ATI to flourish through the development of projects aimed to strengthen open science, multilingualism, ICTs for disabled and marginalized, and media and information literacy.

Access to information

Informed citizens can make informed decisions, for instance, when going to the polls. Only when citizens know how they are governed, can they hold their governments accountable for their decisions and actions. Information is power. Therefore, universal access to information is a cornerstone of healthy and inclusive knowledge societies.

Universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information. This right is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. The media plays a crucial role in informing the public about issues of interest, but it relies on the ability to seek and receive information, too. Hence, the right to universal access to information is also bound up with the right to freedom of the press.

To learn more about why and how the UN commemorates this day, please visit un.org/en/observances/information-access-day.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit facebook.com/NGOCELLatUN. For more information on the NGO Committee on Human Rights, please email the co-chairs at bobbinassar@gmail.com or bknotts@uua.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security, please visit ngocdps.wordpress.com.

Chinese Language Day

Language Days at the United Nations seek to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization. Under the initiative, UN duty stations around the world celebrate six separate days, each dedicated to one of the Organization’s six official languages.

Why April 20?

The date for the Chinese day was selected from Guyu (“Rain of Millet”), which is the 6th of 24 solar terms in the traditional East Asian calendars, to pay tribute to Cangjie. Cangjie is a very important figure in ancient China, claimed to be an official historian of the Yellow Emperor and the inventor of Chinese characters. Legend has it that he had four eyes and four pupils, and that when he invented the characters, the deities and ghosts cried and the sky rained millet. From then on, Chinese people celebrate the day Guyu in honour of Cangjie. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around April 20.

For more information about this UN observance, the five other official languages, and relevant events, please visit un.org/zh/observances/chinese-language-day/english.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Social Development, please visit ngosocdev.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning and Literacy, please visit facebook.com/NGOCELLatUN.