Equality in Access to Knowledge Society through language and cultural diversity

17 November 2009 - A Best Practice Forum on Diversity in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


This workshop is about the role of research community and civil society in enhancing access to the knowledge society by developing new technologies and policies and by localising ICTs and Internet in local languages.
In fact, as al know and agree on, Internet and ICTs are no longer dominated by one language. However, despite the availability of some language support and the feasibility of using its own mother language in some cases, a huge digital gap still present and is hindering the equal access of all to the knowledge society. Benefiting from the digital economy at the individual and community levels becomes then more difficult. 

The workshop will make the point on some research on language processing, localisation of ICTs and access to ICTs for a more inclusive information and knowledge society. How researchers are working to make access more universal, easier and then facilitating the usage of ICTs to produce wealth in developing
countries. Beyond research on languages and ICTs, the efforts are extended now to content development and delivery, tools development, and education initiatives. Policy development process is tremendously impacted by the communication and usage of the results of this research. The civil society has an important role to play by using the research results, creating new knowledge, participating in the development of new policies, and, especially in making the new tools and know-how available and usable by the citizens. Civil society organisations, libraries, schools and universities are expected to become knowledge providers and then facilitate bridging the gaps. The private sector is present in this domain because language support is a flourishing industrial sector and may constitute a great economic opportunity for some countries where young people master more than one international language in addition to their own mother tongue. We have examples of this opportunity in Africa and in Asia where small enterprises are created and offering translation services and software localisation. But even the opportunity is not enough if there is no national strategy and national regulations to encourage such a new sector and provide access to local and regional markets.

In this workshop, researchers and practitioners from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Arab world will present and exchange on their contributions in achieving Tunis Agenda, specifically the issues related to multilingualism, language supports, creation and access to knowledge. The main hypothesis is that research and research and development are key contributors to a sustainable and appropriate strategy to develop local content and to make Knowledge society a reality in all around the world and in all the world languages. 

Note: This workshop is the results of merging of three proposed workshops: "How research community is facilitating access in local languages" (by International Development Research Centre Canada, IDRC), "LA DIVERSITE CULTURELLE ET LE MULTILINGUISME SUR INTERNET" (by ACSIS) and "Solutions to bridging the language gap" (by Bibliotheca Alexandrine).

Speakers are as follows:

1) Dr. Sarmad Hussain, PAN Localisation research network, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan, (Confirmed)
2) Mr. Dwayne Bailey, African Network for localisation, Zuza Software Foundation, South Africa, (Confirmed)
3) Mrs. Manal Amine, African Network for localisation, Arabize, Egypt, (Confirmed)
4) Dr. Daniel Pimienta, FUNREDES, (Confirmed)
5) Dr. Reinhard Schaler, Localisation Research Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland, (Confirmed)
6) Dr. Mustafa Yaseen, MEDAR (Mediterranean Arabic Language and Speech Technology), Jordan, (Confirmed)
7) Dr. Adel El Zaim, International Development Research Centre - Canada, IDRC, (Confirmed)
8) Prof. Tarcisio Della Senta, UNDL foundation, Switzerland, (Confirmed)
9) Mrs. Delphine NANA MEKOUNTE, African Civil Society for the Information Society, ACSIS, Cameroun, (Confirmed)
10) Mr. Tijani BEN JEMAA, African Civil Society for the Information Society, ACSIS, Tunisia, (Confirmed)
11) Mr. Edgard Mandrault, African Civil Society for the Information Society, ACSIS, Gabon, (Confirmed)
12) Mr. Abdoulaye DIARRA, African Civil Society for the Information Society, ACSIS, Mali, (Confirmed)