The Intangible Heritage Section, in close cooperation with the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), has launched an initiative to promote African languages. The objective of the project is threefold:
- to strengthen the national and regional institutional capacities for language preservation (at African universities, national research institutes and in regional institutions),
- to promote south-south and north-south cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa and
- to foster the implementation of national language policies, which are so often disregarded due to the lack of resources and trained specialists.
The project, funded by the Government of Norway, was based on a questionnaire-survey among over 80 university departments and research institutions working in the field of African languages in Sub-Saharan African. The survey allowed to establish a state of the art of their current activities in research and education, to assess major needs and to single out the main issues to be addressed by this project.
Based on these findings, a first expert meeting in Bamako, organized in closed cooperation with ACALAN, brought together about 50 linguists, representatives of the university departments, national and regional research institutions from all over Sub-Saharan Africa that participated in the UNESCO survey. The aim of the meeting was to provide a platform for exchange, to promote cooperation and to establish an optimal strategy and priorities for further action in favour of African languages.