Thematic Debate on Languages at UNESCO’s Executive Board

A thematic debate held at UNESCO on 7 October as part of the 180th session of the Executive Board will examine the linguistic dimension of sustainable development, efficient multilingual education, as well as the respective costs and advantages of monolingualism versus multilingualism.

The debate, entitled Protecting Indigenous and Endangered Languages, and the Role of Languages in Promoting Education for All in the Context of Sustainable Development, will be opened at 10 a.m. by the Chairman of the Executive Board, Ambassador Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï of Bénin.

Speakers scheduled for the morning session include: former Icelandic President and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir; Achi language linguist, Nikte’ Maria Juliana Sis Iboy (Guatemala) and writer and Yoruba literature professor, Akinwumi Isola. A question and answer session will follow.

Speakers during the afternoon, as of 3 p.m., will include: Ganesh Devy, founder of an Indian company that has published books in 23 languages to date; the Venezuelan anthropologist Omar Enrique González Ñáñez and Finnish linguistic human rights activist Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. Another question and answer session will be held from 4.15 and 5.45 p.m.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Chairman of the Executive Board will close the debate.

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