AlMalik: the world loses 25 human languages each year and 90% of languages are endangered
The Director-General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, called on specialized institutions in the issues of Arabic language to make every effort to empower Arabic language on the world linguistic map.
“Empowering Arabic at the Islamic and international levels is a collective responsibility. Everyone, from their respective position, should advance this language amid a situation which will witness decisive changes in the post-COVID-19 era”, he added.
In his address at the opening of ICESCO’s virtual international forum which kicked off today under the theme “Arabic Language for Non-Arabic Speakers beyond COVID-19: Renewing Strategies and Developing Tools and Methods”, Dr. AlMalik warned that each year, the world loses 25 human languages and that 90% of the world’s languages are endangered. In this respect, he mentioned many contributing factors such as children’s inclination to use the widely spoken languages, most advantageous and most expressive of innovations; failure of many languages to keep up with developments in digital and computing technology; language isolationism; and lack of attractiveness to new learners.
“ICESCO, which has long called for a speedy digital qualification of education systems as part of its slogan against the COVID-19 pandemic (Let’s turn trial into blessing), has moved from the pure handling of the adverse repercussions of the pandemic into an investment of huge potentials to achieve transition to the school of the future”, Dr. AlMalik added. In this regard, he referred to the wide range of innovative projects and alternatives of “ICESCO Digital Home” and the Organization’s most abundant use of the widely spoken world languages to raise health awareness and ensure an instant exchange of information.
Then, ICESCO Director-General listed some of ICESCO’s orientations in the field of Arabic language empowerment as follows:
- Ensuring openness of Arabic to everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with diverse contents to promote dialogue and understanding between peoples and meet the needs of learners;
- Continuously developing the curricula of teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers and diversifying resources, tools, and services;
- Expediting the involvement of specialists in the digital production and publishing of learning materials;
- Supporting and computerizing languages written in the Arabic script in Africa and Asia;
- Adopting a forward-looking approach that takes into account the future roles of AI in language learning and the cultural and socioeconomic transformations with an impact on the world linguistic map.
Moreover, Dr. AlMalik cited the major initiatives and programmes of ICESCO Center for Arabic to non-Arabic Speakers, a specialized ICESCO center designed to be a leader in building relevant national capacities. These include “Learn and Master Arabic at Home,” “Bayan’ Award for Creative Expression in Arabic,” “Languages of Africa: Bridges of Culture and History,” “Zidni ‘Ilman” initiative for teachers and counselors, “Programme of ICESCO Regional and National Centers in the Field of Teaching Arabic to non-Arabic Speakers,” and “Computerization of African Languages written in the Arabic Script.” Moreover, ICESCO will collaborate with the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) and ALECSO to develop the “Joint Reference Framework for Arabic Teaching and Learning”.
At the close of the Forum, ICESCO Director-General thanked the participating senior officials of regional and international specialized bodies and centers, experts, and researchers, while calling on them to fully discharge their respective responsibilities toward the empowerment of Arabic language.