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Skutnabb-Kangas
www.Tove-Skutnabb-Kangas.org

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Freedom of speech denied at the UN!

Freedom of speech denied at the UN!
Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Original version
Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education. - Censored version
Otto René Castillo: Apolitical intellectuals


Freedom of speech denied at the UN!
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
(Download the PDF version)

I participated as an invited expert for the first Theme at the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, 12th Session, 28-29 November 2019, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. This Forum was the Fourth and final in a series organised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes. I was also an invited panellist at the First Forum on Europe that was held in Brussels in June 2019.

      At the opening ceremony, the President of the Human Rights Council Mr Coly Seck, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Michelle Bachelet, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Mr Lamberto Zannier, and the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Dr Fernand de Varennes (FdV), all presented statements.

      I was the first speaker after them, at the first Panel of the Forum, Human Rights and Minority Language Education. The panellists, 3 for each of the four Themes, were assumed to be among the best experts in the world in their respective areas. I have written and/or edited around 50 books in this area and published around 600 articles in books and journals; my publications have appeared in almost 70 languages (see www.Tove-Skutnabb-Kangas.org).

      Before the first day of the Forum, on the 27th of November there was a 3-hour Preparatory Meeting in the Palais des Nations for the panellists. Both Presidents of the Forum, Anastasia Crickley(1) (AC) and Astrid Thors (AT), were present, as was the Secretary, Karim Ghezraoui (KG)2, and the Moderators of the first day's Panels, Vincent Defourny3 (VC), and Anna-Mária Bíró (the Moderator of the second Panel), and several other people, but not the UN Special Rapporteur who had other meetings at that point. After some presentations about the procedures and plans, the panellists were asked to give a short summary of what they were going to say. After I had done that, three people, AC, KG, and the Moderator of the first Panel, VD, chose to concentrate on my intervention, the text of which had been available to them in advance. They protested about my use of term "linguistic and cultural genocide", and about naming countries and peoples. They wanted me to delete such references or at least to reformulate the last paragraph before my Recommendation. The last paragraph was as follows:

Today's submersion education continues to participate in linguistic and cultural genocide pedagogically, psychologically, culturally, linguistically and sociologically4 - see Articles 2b and 2e in the UN Genocide Convention for definitions of genocide. But it is not only Indigenous peoples and numerically small minorities that suffer. Their languages and the world's linguistic and cultural diversity suffer, and as a consequence, biodiversity5 and climate. Some of the big minorities today continue to bear the brunt of all this, not only undergoing linguistic and cultural genocide in education but also being physically killed and tortured. I am thinking of the Uyghurs and Tibetans in China, and the Kurds especially in Turkey and Syria. Condemnation from the rest of the world is now forthcoming to some small extent, on paper, but as long as implementation is lacking, even here, it is toothless. Capital and trade trump human rights, as usual.

      The three UN staff identified above did not want genocide to be mentioned, and they did not want Uyghurs, Tibetans and China, or Kurds and Turkey and Syria to be mentioned. (Maybe I should mention here that I have worked with all three groups, with Kurds very intensively for some 50 years). In their view this would cause a serious interruption in the Forum; it was not "UN language". The States concerned would interrupt my intervention with Points of Order. It seems that the three had not read my full paper but started looking at the paragraph in question after I had summarised what I was going to say. The Notes in my paper give more information, including references to two of my publications (together with human rights lawyer Robert Dunbar and Professor Robert Phillipson) where we go through from a multidisciplinary angle the concepts of various kinds of genocide and crimes against humanity). After some debate, I asked everybody in the room if they knew how genocide is defined in the UN 1948 Genocide Convention. Not one knew, including the three.

      After a great deal of discussion, it was suggested that everyone in the room apart from AC, AT, KG and VD leave the room and go and have dinner. (In fact several of them stayed outside until I came out; some of them said afterwards that they were shocked by how I had been treated). In the long discussion that followed, both the Chair (AC) and the Moderator (VD) of my panel stated that they were in considerable doubt as to whether they would be able or willing to chair or moderate the panel if I did not change my presentation. They also said that they feared that in the worst case the Special Rapporteur's work might be endangered so that he might not be able/allowed to organise Forums next year. The other President, AT, did not say that, and did not participate in threats of this kind, but she also thought that it might be a good idea to make changes. Then the Special Rapporteur was brought in via phone for a few minutes; the three, AC, VD and KG explained their views to him. He said, in his usual diplomatic way, that it might, all things considered, be wise to change the paragraph. In my view, he could obviously not say anything else in this situation. Because of my great respect for him, and his way of functioning as a Special Rapporteur, I promised to send AC, VD, KG and AT an alternative text. I sent it first to the Special Rapporteur, who wrote back immediately, and suggested a good way of ending the paragraph; this was then sent to the four.

      In the end, because of the time pressure, I decided to skip the whole contested paragraph, to have time for the poem Hope (by Vaughan Rapatahana) instead. (I would have had time for the paragraph had I chosen to speak a bit faster). I have asked my original to be put on the Forum's website "but it was considered not fair and transparent towards the participants if one version is pronounced by panelists during the Forum and another one posted online." (an email from the OHCHR consultant Lilia Petrosyan, after she had consulted with the people above). This argument apparently does not apply to the NGO interventions which were interrupted after exactly two minutes; their interventions will be in full on the website). These participants were free to name countries and oppressed minorities and use the concept of genocide, while I was not. Therefore, I want to post the original version (and the censored version) on my website. People are invited to share this story and the two versions as widely as they wish, and comment.

      I would also like to add two recent pieces of information about the situation of the Uyghurs. The first is in the link below from the Uyghur Human Rights Project:
      "With the passage of the UIGHUR Act by the U.S. House of Representatives December 3, the U.S. Congress is one step closer to enacting into law specific policy responses to counter the ongoing crimes against humanity being committed against the Uyghur people. The bill passed by the House puts on the table stronger export controls to ensure that US companies are not complicit in human rights abuses in East Turkestan against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other Turkic Muslims in the Uyghur Region. UHRP reiterates the call for swift action it made in its press release, UHRP applauds passage of the UIGHUR Act of 2019 by the U.S. House of Representatives [corrected title], applauding last night's near-unanimous vote in the House of Representatives."

      The Guardian Weekly 29 November 2019, Vol. 201 No. 25, pp. 10-14, has as that week's "Big Story. The China cables. A major leak of secret Chinese Communist Party documents confirms the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic-religious minority since the second world war.".

      If the situation of the Uyghurs in China can be discussed in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the British newspaper the Guardian, is seems odd that this situation cannot be mentioned by an expert at a UN high-level Forum on Minority Issues, even when I refer to the 1948 UN Genocide Convention's definitions of genocide in Article 2b and 2e.

      "Exposing abuse of power, manifested in denials or abuses of education, is the first necessary step towards opposing it. It is the essence of human rights", writes the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomaševski6 (2003: 1). She also writes: "At the core of human rights work is a paradox: the main protector of human rights - the authority one must rely on to enforce human rights - is also the main violator. Exposing abuses of power by governments ... requires putting up with more verbal abuse than, even after twenty years of experience, I have imagined possible" (Tomaševski 2003: xiv). In a 2005 well-documented article (with 146 often lengthy Notes), Has the Right to Education a Future Within the United Nations? A Behind-the-Scenes Account by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education 1998-20047, Tomaševski describes her considerable frustrations, where she met a wall of bureaucratic resistance and obstruction. She also describes the way the UN system failed to support her mandate because of a reluctance to offend the 'world' powers. 'The Human Rights Commission's principal protective function was undermined through a weakened political support for exposing and opposing human rights violations'.

      My experience reveals that what was censored as not 'UN language' was an example of a UN culture that blocks references to human rights norms. The individuals employed by the UN administer these norms that hinder both the naming of these violations of human rights, and the causes of them from being exposed.

      Edward Said writes about the role of intellectuals: "The intellectual is ... someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions ... to be someone who cannot be easily co-opted by governments or corporations ... Least of all should an intellectual be there to make his/her audience feel good: the whole point is to be embarrassing, contrary, even unpleasant" (Said 1994: 9-10).

      As an invited panel expert at a UN Forum my role is to be an intellectual whose freedom of speech cannot be denied.


PS. An email from Fernand de Varennes, the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, 10 December (from Kyrgyzstan) cancels what I had been told earlier, see above. He writes: "Of course your written text will be posted on the Forum's website... This is now accepted and will occur this week."


Notes:
1 Former chairperson of the UN Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
2 Chief of Section in the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
3 Director of the UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office
4 See the definitions of genocide 2b and 2e in the 1948 United Nations' Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the 'Genocide Convention') (http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html) and the argumentation in Skutnabb-Kangas & Dunbar 2010 (in Note 2 in my intervention) and in Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove, Phillipson, Robert & Dunbar, Robert (2019). Is Nunavut education criminally inadequate? An analysis of current policies for Inuktut and English in education, international and national law, linguistic and cultural genocide and crimes against humanity. Nunavut, 25 April 2019. 83 pages; downloadable from www.tunngavik.com/files/2019/04/NuLinguicideReportFINAL.pdf. See also Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Phillipson, Robert (eds) (2017). Language Rights. London/New York: Routledge. Series Critical Concepts in Language Studies. 4 volumes, 1.668 pp.
5 See, e.g. Phillipson, Robert & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2018). Linguistic imperialism and the consequences for language ecology. In Penz, Hermine & Fill, Alwin (eds). Handbook of Ecolinguistics. New York: Routledge, 121-134; Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Harmon, David (2018). Biological diversity and language diversity: parallels and differences. In Penz, Hermine & Fill, Alwin (eds). Handbook of Ecolinguistics. New York: Routledge, 11-25.
6 Tomaševski, Katarina (2003). Education Denied: Costs and Remedies. London: Zed Books.
7 Human Rights Law Review 5:2, 205-237.
8 Said, W. Edward (1994). Representations of the intellectual. London: Vintage.





↑ Freedom of speech denied at the UN ↑ | ↓ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Original
↓ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Censored | ↓ Castillo Apolitical intellectuals ↓ | up ↑ supren





Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Original version
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (www.Tove-Skutnabb-Kangas.org) (first expert speaker in the first panel)
United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, 12th Session, 27-29 November 2019, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

(Download the PDF version)

How long have we known what should be done?

Some of the main causes of the educational failure for Indigenous and minority students were correctly diagnosed centuries ago. Indigenous peoples knew the devastating results of submersion programmes where children were taught only through the medium of the dominant language, English. In the USA, Seneca Chief, Handsome Lake, knew this in the mid-1700s1, meaning 270 years ago. Still these submersion programmes using the dominant language as the only or main teaching language continue all over the world.

      Churches and educational authorities in the USA knew and admitted in 1880 that teaching children for the first several years in their own languages before transferring to English medium gave them better English competence than teaching them in English from the start2. This was 140 years ago. Still, the principles are not followed.

      A government resolution in India 19043, meaning 115 years ago, described exactly how education should be organized. It recommended using the mother tongue as the main teaching language minimally up to age 13, with English taught as a second language. These 115-year old recommendations for mother-tongue based multilingual education, and the argumentation for them could have been written by the best researchers today, on the basis of hundreds of both small and very large-scale studies. Still, the recommendations are not being followed.

      UNESCO's 1953 book The use of the vernacular languages in education included firm recommendations, written by experts, on how multilingual education can best be organised - over 65 years ago. Likewise, UNESCO's Education position paper in 2003, Education in a multilingual world. Still, most ITM education is today organised against solid scientific evidence of how it should be organised.

Is today's situation because of lack of knowledge?

Many of us, including the panellist here, have talked with thousands of minority and Indigenous parents, and children and their teachers.

      We have done research; we have written thousands of books and tens of thousands of articles about the theme5. The many solutions are complex, and multidisciplinary: there is no one solution that fits all; all good suggestions are context-dependent.

      Still, we KNOW in general terms what should be done. We have clarified the pedagogical principles that need to be followed. The remaining (fewer and fewer) counterarguments against strong models of mother-tongue-based MLE, are political/ideological; they are not scientific.

Are we getting anywhere? Are the principles being followed.

I quote a few lines from various articles by the South African language planner, Neville Alexander. In a review of achievements in Africa Neville concludes (and I quote): '[W]e are not making any progress at all' (Alexander 2006: 9); 'most conference resolutions were no more than a recycling exercise' (Bamgbose 2001, quoted in Alexander 2006: 10); 'these propositions had been enunciated in one conference after another since the early 1980s' ( 2006: 11); 'since the adoption of the OAU [Organisation for African Unity] Charter in 1963, every major conference of African cultural experts and political leaders had solemnly intoned the commitment of the political leadership of the continent to the development and powerful use of the African languages without any serious attempt at implementing the relevant resolutions' (2006: 11). This has led to 'the palpable failure of virtually all post-colonial educational systems on the continent' (2006: 16)6.

      What we need is large-scale implementation of the existing good laws and intentions and recommendations. But the political will for that is mostly lacking. Neville's analysis (2006: 16) stated: politicians are "not considering favourably a plan that amounts to no more than a wish list, even if it is based on the most accurate quantitative and qualitative research evidence". Politicians need an analysis of the costs. Some of the hard economic evidence was still lacking in 2006, but now much of it exists.

      Firstly, researchers have shown how massive the economic costs of NOT doing what is needed are. Many minority children are being pushed out of school. They do not drop out; the way formal education is organised pushes them out. Most of those who still succeed, (and there are some) do not succeed BECAUSE of how their education is organised but DESPITE of it.

      When minority children do not get any or get very little formal education, this means incredible wastage, economically and psychologically, because they are not allowed to develop the capabilities they have7.- Indigenous people and minorities, especially those whom the educational system has alienated, are often over-represented in several statistics on suicides, alcoholism, drugs use, unemployment, violence, crime. Some of the consequences of the miseducation (including an internalised neocolonial consciousness, wanting English-medium education8) continue through several generations. This also increases conflict potential in societies, including so called radicalisation of young men and a few young women.

      More than 40 years ago some of us (e.g. Stephen Castles, 19739) wrote, to no avail, about the ticking time bomb that badly organised minority education implied. We have told the power holders and politicians and educational authorities all this. And still the miseducation continues. Now the time bombs are exploding. Minorities have not had a choice. This would presuppose research-based knowledge of the long-term consequences of various choices, and the existence of good of good mother-tongue based MLE.

      On the other hand, economists have now shown that even the initial direct costs of getting minority education right are minor10. The long-term economic and other gains and benefits of doing it right are huge. The result could be well-educated multilingual people, with drive, initiative, creativity, cognitive flexibility, high self-confidence, fewer identity challenges, economic mobility, and willingness and capacity to integrate and participate in public life.

      Today's submersion education continues to participate in linguistic and cultural genocide pedagogically, psychologically, culturally, linguistically and sociologically11 - see Articles 2b and 2e in the UN Genocide Convention for definitions of genocide. But it is not only Indigenous peoples and numerically small minorities that suffer. Their languages and the world's linguistic and cultural diversity, suffer, and as a consequence, biodiversity12 and climate. Some of the big minorities today continue to bear the brunt of all this, not only undergoing linguistic and cultural genocide in education but also being physically killed and tortured. I am thinking of the Uyghurs and Tibetans in China, and the Kurds especially in Turkey and Syria. The condemnation from the rest of the world is now forthcoming to some small extent, on paper, but as long as implementation is lacking, even here, it is toothless. Capital and trade trump human rights, as usual.

My recommendation

My ONLY recommendation to the power holders is similar to what Greta Thunberg says: listen to research! And right she is.

So, IMPLEMENT the good recommendations about mother-tongue-based multilingual education that come from researchers, and from Indigenous and minority children, parents, teachers, and the NGO!s This also includes the recommendations on how to allow dominant group children to become high-level multilingual through education13.

As you can hear, I am very pessimistic in my analysis of the state of Linguistic Human Rights in education today, and I have left out all the positive examples14. But I am still optimistic in my actions, hoping against today's realities. I finish with a short poem by a Māori friend, Vaughan Rapatahana.

Only one word (Original in Māori: Tahi kupu anake15)

in a world of many mad politicians
in a world of many destitute people
in a world of global warming
hope is the word.

in a world of many wars
in a world of corruption and greed
in a world of the extinction of animals
hope is the word.

hope is the only word
hope is the word
hope.

What Fernand de Varennes, our Special Rapporteur, has done and is doing with these four Forums/Fora represents this hope16. Thank you, Fernand. Thank you everybody here!


NOTES:
1) Thomas, Jacob (Chief), with Terry Boyle (2001) [1994]. Teachings from the Longhouse. Toronto: Stoddart.
2) The American Board of Indian Commissioners wrote in 1880: "...first teaching the children to read and write in their own language enables them to master English with more ease when they take up that study ... a child beginning a four years' course with the study of Dakota would be further advanced in English at the end of the term than one who had not been instructed in Dakota. ... it is true that by beginning in the Indian tongue and then putting the students into English studies our missionaries say that after three or four years their English is better than it would have been if they had begun entirely with English" (quoted from Francis, Norbert & Reyhner, Jon (2002). Language and Literacy Teaching for Indigenous Education. A Bilingual Approach. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 45-46, 77, 98). In Canada,"for most of the school system's life, though the truth was known to it", the Department of Indian Affairs, "after nearly a century of contrary evidence in its own files", still "maintained the fiction of care" and "contended that the schools were 'operated for the welfare and education of Indian children'"(Milloy 1999: xiii-xiv). These schools represented "a system of persistent neglect and debilitating abuse", "violent in its intention to 'kill the Indian' in the child for the sake of Christian civilization" (ibid.: xiv; xv). Finally closed down in 1986, the Department and the churches were "fully aware of the fact" that the schools "unfitted many children, abused or not, for life in either Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal communities. The schools produced thousands of individuals incapable of leading healthy lives or contributing positively to their communities" (ibid.: xvii) (From p. 66 in Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Dunbar, Robert (2010). Indigenous Children's Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime Against Humanity? A Global View. Gáldu Čála. Journal of Indigenous Peoples' Rights No 1, 2010. Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino: Galdu, Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Download at www.tove-skutnabb-kangas.org/en/most_recent_books.html). See Milloy, John S. (1999). "A National Crime": The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg, Manitoba: The University of Manitoba Press.
3) A government resolution ("Curzon resolution") was formulated in 1904 expressing serious dissatisfaction with the organisation of education in India, and blaming Macaulay for the neglect of Indian languages (Evans 2002, 277). This extract shows its present-day relevance, and perhaps suggests that postcolonial education and most minority education has failed to learn from earlier experience:
      "It has never been part of the policy of the Government to substitute the ... [line missing on photocopy] ... commercial value which a knowledge of English commands, and the fact that the final examinations of the high schools are conducted in English, because the secondary schools to be subjected to a certain pressure to introduce prematurely both the teaching of English and its use as a medium of instruction; while for the same reasons the study of the vernacular in these schools is liable to be thrust into the background. This tendency however requires to be corrected in the interest of sound education. As a general rule the child should not be allowed to learn English as a language until he has made some progress in the primary stages of instruction and has received a thorough grounding in his mother-tongue.
      It is equally important that when the teaching of English has begun, it should not be prematurely employed as the medium of instruction in other subjects. Much of the practice, too prevalent in Indian schools, of committing to memory ill-understood phrases and extracts from text-books or notes, may be traced to the scholars' having received instruction through the medium of English before their knowledge of the language was sufficient for them to understand what they were taught. The line of division between the use of the vernacular and of English as a medium of instruction should, broadly speaking, be drawn at a minimum age of 13. No scholar in a secondary school should, even then, be allowed to abandon the study of his vernacular, which should be kept up until the end of the school course. If the educated classes neglect cultivation of their own languages, these will surely sink to the level of mere colloquial dialects possessing no literature worthy of the name, and no progress will be possible in giving effect to the principle, affirmed in the Despatch of 1854, that European knowledge should gradually be brought, by means of Indian vernaculars, within the reach of all classes of the people (as cited in Nurullah and Naik 1951 by Evans 2002, 277-278", quoted on p. 42 in Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2009). MLE for Global Justice: Issues, Approaches, Opportunities. In Mohanty, Ajit, Panda, Minati, Phillipson, Robert, Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (eds). Multilingual Education for Social Justice: Globalising the Local). New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 36-59. 42. Evans, Stephen (2002). Macaulay's Minute revisited: Colonial language policy in nineteenth-century India. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 23/4, 260-281; Nurullah, S. and J.P.Naik, J. P. (1951). A history of education in India. Bombay: Macmillan.
4) ITM = Indigenous/Tribal/Minority/Minoritised.
5) See my Big Bibliography, over 7,000 entries, 442 pages, downloadable at http://www.tove-skutnabb-kangas.org/en/Tove-Skutnabb-Kangas-Bibliography.html)"
6) Alexander, Neville (2006). Introduction. In Intergovernmental Conference on Language Policies in Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe, 17-21 March 1997. Final Report. Paris: UNESCO, Intangible Heritage Section, 9-16. The Asmara Declaration on African Languages and Literatures from 2000) (http://www.outreach.psu.edu/programs/allodds/declaration.html) is one example of the impressive African declarations of intent. Even more optimistic plans are contained in The Language Plan of Action for Africa , one of the results from ACALAN's (The African Academy of Languages, www.acalan.org) conference in Bamako, Mali, January 2009. Similar pronouncements exist on other continents but are less impressive.
7) On Economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen's concept "capability" and its application for Indigenous and minority education, see Mohanty, Ajit K. & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2013). MLE as an economic equaliser in India and Nepal: mother tongue based multilingual education fights poverty through capability development and identity support. In Henrard, Kristin (ed.). Socioeconomic participation of minorities in relation to their right to (respect for) identity. Studies in International Minority and Group Rights, Volume 2. Leiden and Boston: Brill/ Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 159-187.
8) See, e.g. Mohanty, Ajit K. (2019). The Multilingual Reality: Living with Languages. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Series Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights on this and on his concept "double divide" (the hierarchy between on the one hand a tribal language and a national language, on the other hand the national language and English.
9) What do we need immigrant and asylum minorities for in Western Europe? Will they still be "... segregated, still doing the shitwork (Castles & Kosack 1973), with the school non-educating or miseducating their children and grandchildren to continue doing the shitwork, i.e. a permanent dual labour market (Wadensjö 1981) in a two-thirds society?" Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Phillipson, Robert (1996). Minority workers or minority human beings? A European dilemma. International Review of Education, Special issue, 'The Education of Minorities', eds. Normand Labrie and Stacy Churchill, 291-307. Castles, Stephen (1980). The social time-bomb: education of an underclass in West Germany. Race and Class XXI:4, 369-387. Castles, Stephen & Godula Kosack (1973). Immigrant Workers and Class Structure in Western Europe. London: Oxford University Press. Wadensjö, Eskil (1981). Arbetsmarknad, invandring och ekonomi (Labour market, immigration and economics). In: Hamberg, E. and T. Hammar, eds. Invandringen och framtiden (Immigration and future). Stockholm: Liber Förlag, Publica, 86-119.
10) See, e.g. François Grin's publications in my BigBib (Note 4 above). See also Walter, Stephen and Benson, Carol (2012). Language policy and medium of instruction in formal education. In Spolsky, Bernard (ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 278-300 and other publications by Walter and by Benson; likewise many by Kathleen Heugh, and by Ajit Mohanty, e.g. his 2019, in my BigBib.
11) See the definitions of genocide 2b and 2e in the1948 United Nations' Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the 'Genocide Convention') (http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html) and the argumentation in Skutnabb-Kangas & Dunbar 2010 (in Note 2 above) and in Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove, Phillipson, Robert & Dunbar, Robert (2019). Is Nunavut education criminally inadequate? An analysis of current policies for Inuktut and English in education, international and national law, linguistic and cultural genocide and crimes against humanity. Nunavut, 25 April 2019. 83 pages. Download from https://www.tunngavik.com/files/2019/04/NuLinguicideReportFINAL.pdf
12) See, e.g. Phillipson, Robert & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2018). Linguistic imperialism and the consequences for language ecology. In Penz, Hermine & Fill, Alwin (eds). Handbook of Ecolinguistics. New York: Routledge, 121-134; Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Harmon, David (2018). Biological diversity and language diversity: parallels and differences. In Penz, Hermine & Fill, Alwin (eds). Handbook of Ecolinguistics. New York: Routledge, 11-25.
13) Immersion programmes and dual-language programmes succeed well in supporting dominant language children's bilingualism. They have grown very fast during the last three decades and the literature on them is huge - google them!
14) See the 2015 Government of Odisha Recommendations of the MLE Policy & Implementation Guidelines, India, Extracts, Update, summary. In Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Phillipson, Robert (eds) (2018). Language Rights, New York: Routledge, 4 volumes, 1668 pp. In Volume 4. The latest developments in Odisha, India: "Odisha MLE is now revised as a late-exit programme in which MT is used as MoI for 5 years of primary education with provision for subsequent use of tribal MTs as language subjects. The programme is now extended to 21 tribal languages and implemented in 1485 schools with over 140,000 tribal MT children in grades 1 to 5 and 3533 MLE teachers from the target language communities. A number of NGOs have also started MLE programmes in tribal areas of the state and with continuing expansion of the Government programme and recruitment of additional teachers the number of MLE teachers, both in the Government and non-Government sectors, is estimated to rise to over 7000 during the next five years". (From Ajit Mohanty's Project plan for Bellagio, unpublished, 21 November 2019; not for quotation).
"In British Columbia, youth suicide rates are more than six times lower in Indigenous communities where at least 50 percent of the population speaks the native language. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Australia, young people who speak an Indigenous language have lower rates of binge drinking and illegal drug use compared to non-speakers, as well as a decreased chance of becoming victims of violence." From https://www.sapiens.org/language/endangered-languages/?fbclid=IwAR33KCi2Vl1XaZjJvWETfiW3A80mEKQPjH_8ATc6BlfYL5MTnUZsLSZJzMk. Thanks, Carol Benson for the quote!
15) First published in takahē literary journal, Aotearoa New Zealand. Thanks, Vaughan for sending it!
16) Fernand was also probably the first lawyer who explicitly accepted that linguistic rights in education are linguistic HUMAN rights. See de Varennes, Fernand (2000). Tolerance and Inclusion: The Convergence of Human Rights and the Work of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. In Phillipson, Robert (ed.) (2000). Rights to language. Equity, power and education. Mahwah, NJ & London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 67- 71.



↑ Freedom of speech denied at the UN ↑ | ↑ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Original
↓ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Censored | ↓ Castillo Apolitical intellectuals ↓ | up ↑ supren





Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Censored version
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (www.Tove-Skutnabb-Kangas.org) (first expert speaker in the first panel)
United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, 12th Session, 27-29 November 2019, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

(This is the censored version - compare it with the paragraph starting with "Today's submersion education..." just before my Recommendation in the Original version).

(Download the PDF version)

How long have we known what should be done?

Some of the main causes of the educational failure for Indigenous and minority students were correctly diagnosed centuries ago. Indigenous peoples knew the devastating results of submersion programmes where children were taught only through the medium of the dominant language, English. In the USA, Seneca Chief, Handsome Lake, knew this in the mid-1700s1, meaning 270 years ago. Still these submersion programmes using the dominant language as the only or main teaching language continue all over the world.

      Churches and educational authorities in the USA knew and admitted in 1880 that teaching children for the first several years in their own languages before transferring to English medium gave them better English competence than teaching them in English from the start2. This was 140 years ago. Still, the principles are not followed.

      A government resolution in India 19043, meaning 115 years ago, described exactly how education should be organized. It recommended using the mother tongue as the main teaching language minimally up to age 13, with English taught as a second language. These 115-year old recommendations for mother-tongue based multilingual education, and the argumentation for them could have been written by the best researchers today, on the basis of hundreds of both small and very large-scale studies. Still, the recommendations are not being followed.

      UNESCO's 1953 book The use of the vernacular languages in education included firm recommendations, written by experts, on how multilingual education can best be organised - over 65 years ago. Likewise, UNESCO's Education position paper in 2003, Education in a multilingual world. Still, most ITM education is today organised against solid scientific evidence of how it should be organised.

Is today's situation because of lack of knowledge?

Many of us, including the panellist here, have talked with thousands of minority and Indigenous parents, and children and their teachers.

      We have done research; we have written thousands of books and tens of thousands of articles about the theme5. The many solutions are complex, and multidisciplinary: there is no one solution that fits all; all good suggestions are context-dependent.

      Still, we KNOW in general terms what should be done. We have clarified the pedagogical principles that need to be followed. The remaining (fewer and fewer) counterarguments against strong models of mother-tongue-based MLE, are political/ideological; they are not scientific.

Are we getting anywhere? Are the principles being followed.

I quote a few lines from various articles by the South African language planner, Neville Alexander. In a review of achievements in Africa Neville concludes (and I quote): '[W]e are not making any progress at all' (Alexander 2006: 9); 'most conference resolutions were no more than a recycling exercise' (Bamgbose 2001, quoted in Alexander 2006: 10); 'these propositions had been enunciated in one conference after another since the early 1980s' ( 2006: 11); 'since the adoption of the OAU [Organisation for African Unity] Charter in 1963, every major conference of African cultural experts and political leaders had solemnly intoned the commitment of the political leadership of the continent to the development and powerful use of the African languages without any serious attempt at implementing the relevant resolutions' (2006: 11). This has led to 'the palpable failure of virtually all post-colonial educational systems on the continent' (2006: 16)6.

      What we need is large-scale implementation of the existing good laws and intentions and recommendations. But the political will for that is mostly lacking. Neville's analysis (2006: 16) stated: politicians are "not considering favourably a plan that amounts to no more than a wish list, even if it is based on the most accurate quantitative and qualitative research evidence". Politicians need an analysis of the costs. Some of the hard economic evidence was still lacking in 2006, but now much of it exists.

      Firstly, researchers have shown how massive the economic costs of NOT doing what is needed are. Many minority children are being pushed out of school. They do not drop out; the way formal education is organised pushes them out. Most of those who still succeed, (and there are some) do not succeed BECAUSE of how their education is organised but DESPITE of it.

      When minority children do not get any or get very little formal education, this means incredible wastage, economically and psychologically, because they are not allowed to develop the capabilities they have7.- Indigenous people and minorities, especially those whom the educational system has alienated, are often over-represented in several statistics on suicides, alcoholism, drugs use, unemployment, violence, crime. Some of the consequences of the miseducation (including an internalised neocolonial consciousness, wanting English-medium education8) continue through several generations. This also increases conflict potential in societies, including so called radicalisation of young men and a few young women.

      More than 40 years ago some of us (e.g. Stephen Castles, 19739) wrote, to no avail, about the ticking time bomb that badly organised minority education implied. We have told the power holders and politicians and educational authorities all this. And still the miseducation continues. Now the time bombs are exploding. Minorities have not had a choice. This would presuppose research-based knowledge of the long-term consequences of various choices, and the existence of good of good mother-tongue based MLE.

      On the other hand, economists have now shown that even the initial direct costs of getting minority education right are minor10. The long-term economic and other gains and benefits of doing it right are huge. The result could be well-educated multilingual people, with drive, initiative, creativity, cognitive flexibility, high self-confidence, fewer identity challenges, economic mobility, and willingness and capacity to integrate and participate in public life.

      Today's submersion education continues. But it is not only Indigenous peoples and numerically small minorities that suffer. Their languages and the world's linguistic and cultural diversity, suffer, and as a consequence, biodiversity11 and climate. Some of the big minorities today also continue to bear the brunt of all this; and few of them have their formal education through the medium of their own languages. There are grave human rights violations and denial of the right to equality when minorities cannot be educated in their own languages. This is also central to the identity of linguistic minorities - and of the survival of languages. The condemnation from the rest of the world is now forthcoming to some small extent, on paper, but as long as implementation is lacking, even here, it is toothless. Capital and trade trump human rights, as usual.

My recommendation

My ONLY recommendation to the power holders is similar to what Greta Thunberg says: listen to research! And right she is.

So, IMPLEMENT the good recommendations about mother-tongue-based multilingual education that come from researchers, and from Indigenous and minority children, parents, teachers, and the NGO's! This also includes the recommendations on how to allow dominant group children to become high-level multilingual through education12.

As you can hear, I am very pessimistic in my analysis of the state of Linguistic Human Rights in education today, and I have left out all the positive examples13. But I am still optimistic in my actions, hoping against today's realities. I finish with a short poem by a Māori friend, Vaughan Rapatahana.

Only one word (Original in Māori: Tahi kupu anake14)

in a world of many mad politicians
in a world of many destitute people
in a world of global warming
hope is the word.

in a world of many wars
in a world of corruption and greed
in a world of the extinction of animals
hope is the word.

hope is the only word
hope is the word
hope.

What Fernand de Varennes, our Special Rapporteur, has done and is doing with these four Forums/Fora represents this hope15. Thank you, Fernand. Thank you everybody here!


NOTES:
1) Thomas, Jacob (Chief), with Terry Boyle (2001) [1994]. Teachings from the Longhouse. Toronto: Stoddart.
2) The American Board of Indian Commissioners wrote in 1880: "...first teaching the children to read and write in their own language enables them to master English with more ease when they take up that study ... a child beginning a four years' course with the study of Dakota would be further advanced in English at the end of the term than one who had not been instructed in Dakota. ... it is true that by beginning in the Indian tongue and then putting the students into English studies our missionaries say that after three or four years their English is better than it would have been if they had begun entirely with English" (quoted from Francis, Norbert & Reyhner, Jon (2002). Language and Literacy Teaching for Indigenous Education. A Bilingual Approach. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 45-46, 77, 98). In Canada,"for most of the school system's life, though the truth was known to it", the Department of Indian Affairs, "after nearly a century of contrary evidence in its own files", still "maintained the fiction of care" and "contended that the schools were 'operated for the welfare and education of Indian children'"(Milloy 1999: xiii-xiv). These schools represented "a system of persistent neglect and debilitating abuse", "violent in its intention to 'kill the Indian' in the child for the sake of Christian civilization" (ibid.: xiv; xv). Finally closed down in 1986, the Department and the churches were "fully aware of the fact" that the schools "unfitted many children, abused or not, for life in either Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal communities. The schools produced thousands of individuals incapable of leading healthy lives or contributing positively to their communities" (ibid.: xvii) (From p. 66 in Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Dunbar, Robert (2010). Indigenous Children's Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime Against Humanity? A Global View. Gáldu Čála. Journal of Indigenous Peoples' Rights No 1, 2010. Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino: Galdu, Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Download at www.tove-skutnabb-kangas.org/en/most_recent_books.html). See Milloy, John S. (1999). "A National Crime": The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg, Manitoba: The University of Manitoba Press.
3) A government resolution ("Curzon resolution") was formulated in 1904 expressing serious dissatisfaction with the organisation of education in India, and blaming Macaulay for the neglect of Indian languages (Evans 2002, 277). This extract shows its present-day relevance, and perhaps suggests that postcolonial education and most minority education has failed to learn from earlier experience:
      "It has never been part of the policy of the Government to substitute the ... [line missing on photocopy] ... commercial value which a knowledge of English commands, and the fact that the final examinations of the high schools are conducted in English, because the secondary schools to be subjected to a certain pressure to introduce prematurely both the teaching of English and its use as a medium of instruction; while for the same reasons the study of the vernacular in these schools is liable to be thrust into the background. This tendency however requires to be corrected in the interest of sound education. As a general rule the child should not be allowed to learn English as a language until he has made some progress in the primary stages of instruction and has received a thorough grounding in his mother-tongue.
      It is equally important that when the teaching of English has begun, it should not be prematurely employed as the medium of instruction in other subjects. Much of the practice, too prevalent in Indian schools, of committing to memory ill-understood phrases and extracts from text-books or notes, may be traced to the scholars' having received instruction through the medium of English before their knowledge of the language was sufficient for them to understand what they were taught. The line of division between the use of the vernacular and of English as a medium of instruction should, broadly speaking, be drawn at a minimum age of 13. No scholar in a secondary school should, even then, be allowed to abandon the study of his vernacular, which should be kept up until the end of the school course. If the educated classes neglect cultivation of their own languages, these will surely sink to the level of mere colloquial dialects possessing no literature worthy of the name, and no progress will be possible in giving effect to the principle, affirmed in the Despatch of 1854, that European knowledge should gradually be brought, by means of Indian vernaculars, within the reach of all classes of the people (as cited in Nurullah and Naik 1951 by Evans 2002, 277-278", quoted on p. 42 in Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2009). MLE for Global Justice: Issues, Approaches, Opportunities. In Mohanty, Ajit, Panda, Minati, Phillipson, Robert, Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (eds). Multilingual Education for Social Justice: Globalising the Local). New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 36-59. 42. Evans, Stephen (2002). Macaulay's Minute revisited: Colonial language policy in nineteenth-century India. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 23/4, 260-281; Nurullah, S. and J.P.Naik, J. P. (1951). A history of education in India. Bombay: Macmillan.
4) ITM = Indigenous/Tribal/Minority/Minoritised.
5) See my Big Bibliography, over 7,000 entries, 442 pages, downloadable at http://www.tove-skutnabb-kangas.org/en/Tove-Skutnabb-Kangas-Bibliography.html
6) Alexander, Neville (2006). Introduction. In Intergovernmental Conference on Language Policies in Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe, 17-21 March 1997. Final Report. Paris: UNESCO, Intangible Heritage Section, 9-16. The Asmara Declaration on African Languages and Literatures from 2000) (http://www.outreach.psu.edu/programs/allodds/declaration.html) is one example of the impressive African declarations of intent. Even more optimistic plans are contained in The Language Plan of Action for Africa , one of the results from ACALAN's (The African Academy of Languages, www.acalan.org) conference in Bamako, Mali, January 2009. Similar pronouncements exist on other continents but are less impressive.
7) On Economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen's concept "capability" and its application for Indigenous and minority education, see Mohanty, Ajit K. & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2013). MLE as an economic equaliser in India and Nepal: mother tongue based multilingual education fights poverty through capability development and identity support. In Henrard, Kristin (ed.). Socioeconomic participation of minorities in relation to their right to (respect for) identity. Studies in International Minority and Group Rights, Volume 2. Leiden and Boston: Brill/ Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 159-187.
8) See, e.g. Mohanty, Ajit K. (2019). The Multilingual Reality: Living with Languages. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Series Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights on this and on his concept "double divide" (the hierarchy between on the one hand a tribal language and a national language, on the other hand the national language and English.
9) What do we need immigrant and asylum minorities for in Western Europe? Will they still be "... segregated, still doing the shitwork (Castles & Kosack 1973), with the school non-educating or miseducating their children and grandchildren to continue doing the shitwork, i.e. a permanent dual labour market (Wadensjö 1981) in a two-thirds society?" Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Phillipson, Robert (1996). Minority workers or minority human beings? A European dilemma. International Review of Education, Special issue, 'The Education of Minorities', eds. Normand Labrie and Stacy Churchill, 291-307. Castles, Stephen (1980). The social time-bomb: education of an underclass in West Germany. Race and Class XXI:4, 369-387. Castles, Stephen & Godula Kosack (1973). Immigrant Workers and Class Structure in Western Europe. London: Oxford University Press. Wadensjö, Eskil (1981). Arbetsmarknad, invandring och ekonomi (Labour market, immigration and economics). In: Hamberg, E. and T. Hammar, eds. Invandringen och framtiden (Immigration and future). Stockholm: Liber Förlag, Publica, 86-119.
10) See, e.g. François Grin's publications in my BigBib (Note 4 above). See also Walter, Stephen and Benson, Carol (2012). Language policy and medium of instruction in formal education. In Spolsky, Bernard (ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 278-300 and other publications by Walter and by Benson; likewise many by Kathleen Heugh, and by Ajit Mohanty, e.g. his 2019, in my BigBib.
11) See, e.g. Phillipson, Robert & Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2018). Linguistic imperialism and the consequences for language ecology. In Penz, Hermine & Fill, Alwin (eds). Handbook of Ecolinguistics. New York: Routledge, 121-134; Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Harmon, David (2018). Biological diversity and language diversity: parallels and differences. In Penz, Hermine & Fill, Alwin (eds). Handbook of Ecolinguistics. New York: Routledge, 11-25.
12) Immersion programmes and dual-language programmes succeed well in supporting dominant language children's bilingualism. They have grown very fast during the last three decades and the literature on them is huge - google them!
13) See the 2015 Government of Odisha Recommendations of the MLE Policy & Implementation Guidelines, India, Extracts, Update, summary. In Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Phillipson, Robert (eds) (2018). Language Rights, New York: Routledge, 4 volumes, 1668 pp. In Volume 4. The latest developments in Odisha, India: "Odisha MLE is now revised as a late-exit programme in which MT is used as MoI for 5 years of primary education with provision for subsequent use of tribal MTs as language subjects. The programme is now extended to 21 tribal languages and implemented in 1485 schools with over 140,000 tribal MT children in grades 1 to 5 and 3533 MLE teachers from the target language communities. A number of NGOs have also started MLE programmes in tribal areas of the state and with continuing expansion of the Government programme and recruitment of additional teachers the number of MLE teachers, both in the Government and non-Government sectors, is estimated to rise to over 7000 during the next five years". (From Ajit Mohanty's Project plan for Bellagio, unpublished, 21 November 2019; not for quotation).
"In British Columbia, youth suicide rates are more than six times lower in Indigenous communities where at least 50 percent of the population speaks the native language. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Australia, young people who speak an Indigenous language have lower rates of binge drinking and illegal drug use compared to non-speakers, as well as a decreased chance of becoming victims of violence." From: https://www.sapiens.org/language/endangered-languages/?fbclid=IwAR33KCi2Vl1XaZjJvWETfiW3A80mEKQPjH_8ATc6BlfYL5MTnUZsLSZJzMk. Thanks, Carol Benson for the quote!
14) First published in takahē literary journal, Aotearoa New Zealand. Thanks, Vaughan for sending it!
15) Fernand was also probably the first lawyer who explicitly accepted that linguistic rights in education are linguistic HUMAN rights. See de Varennes, Fernand (2000). Tolerance and Inclusion: The Convergence of Human Rights and the Work of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. In Phillipson, Robert (ed.) (2000). Rights to language. Equity, power and education. Mahwah, NJ & London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 67- 71.


↑ Freedom of speech denied at the UN ↑ | ↑ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Original
↑ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Censored | ↓ Castillo Apolitical intellectuals ↓ | up ↑ supren




Apolitical intellectuals
Otto René Castillo

One day
the apolitical intellectuals
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.

They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
slowly,
like a sweet fire
small and alone.

No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas after lunch,

no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with "the idea of the nothing"

no one will care about
their higher financial learning.

They won't be questioned
on Greek mythology,

or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward's death.
They'll be asked nothing
about their absurd justifications,
born in the shadow
of the total lie.
On that day
the simple men will come.

Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they'll ask:

"What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
and life
burned out of them?"

Apolitical intellectuals
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.

A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.
Your own misery
will pick at your soul.
And you will be mute in your shame


Otto René Castillo (1934 - 1967) was a Guatemalan poet and revolutionary. Active in progressive politics as a high school student, Castillo went into exile in El Salvador in 1954 after the overthrow of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz by a CIA-orchestrated coup d'etat. The only two volumes of work put into print during Castillo's lifetime appeared in the 1960s, Poema Tecún Umán and Vámonos patria a caminar. In 1966, he clandestinely returned to Guatemala and joined the guerrilla struggle with the Rebel Armed Forces, where he served as the chief of propaganda and education. After operating in the Sierra de las Minas for several months, he was captured by government forces and taken to Zacapa barracks alongside his comrade, Nora Paíz Cárcamo in March 1967. There they were interrogated, tortured, and burned alive.
(This short bio is based on:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Ren%C3%A9_Castillo.
The poem is here quoted from:
https://www.marxists.org/subject/art/literature/castillo/works/apolitical.htm)



↑ Freedom of speech denied at the UN ↑ | ↑ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Original
↑ Theme 1, Human Rights and Minority Language Education - Censored | ↑ Castillo Apolitical intellectuals ↑ | up ↑ supren






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