Language and Development Conference in South Africa

British Council Brings Together Practitioners and Government Officials to Discuss the Role of Languages in Development

The 10th Language and Development Conference, only the second to be convened in Sub-Saharan Africa, took place on 14–17 October 2013 at the Lagoon Beach Hotel and Conference Centre in Cape Town. The conference brought together professionals and academics who are interested in the role that languages play in development, with a particular emphasis on language policy, education and cultural identity. The Language and Development Conference was hosted in association with UNESCO, the African Academy of Languages of the African Union (AU-ACALAN), the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) and South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (DBE).

The conference’s theme ‘Opportunity, equity, and identity beyond 2015’, referred to the end date set internationally to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The conference examined a range of language-related issues common to developing countries such as discussions on state language policies, the teaching and learning of languages in classrooms and how this might affect cultural identity of groups and individuals. In addition to this, the delegates will addressed the concept of language and socio-economic development as well as the critical issue of medium of instruction.

The 10th Language and Development Conference opened with a welcome note by British Council Chief Executive, Martin Davidson and H. E. Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education South Africa.

‘’The British Council sees language as an important factor in human development and a crucial issue in education. You cannot learn something in a language that you do not understand, but we also recognise the importance of access to English as the language of global communication and business. English must be in addition to an individual’s first languages, not instead of them. I encourage this conference to show a way to harness multilingualism so that we can meet the needs and demands of our ever more aspirational young population”.   – Martin Davidson, British Council Chief Executive

A range of notable delegates and speakers from different regions and organisations attended the conference, including:  Executive Secretary of AU-ACALAN - Professor Sozinho Francisco Matsinhe, Director ofPRAESA - Dr Carole Bloch and Dr ChristineGlanz from theUNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.