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Joint Meeting of ECOWAS Parliament�s Committees on Education, Training, Youth, Employment, and on Tourism, Culture, Art and Handicraft

� On September 7-14 of the year 2003, ECOWAS Parliament held a joint meeting of its Committees on Education, Training, Youth, Employment and Sports, and on Tourism, Culture, Art and Handicrafts. This meeting was held in fulfilment of the Parliament�s commitment to implement Paragraph 3 of a key recommendation adopted in May 2003, concerning the promotion of the languages of the Community.

�� Holding the meeting in Bamako also contributed to reinforce the policy of delocalisation of the activities of the Parliament, and thereby, bring this Institution closer to the grassroots. Moreover, he ECOWAS MPs wanted to take advantage of the experience of the African Academy of Languages and other resource persons concerning:

(i)    the cross border vehicular languages within the ECOWAS member States;

(ii)   the state of the art in the transcription of the languages of the West African region;

(iii) the prospects of using cross border vehicular languages to help promote and accelerate regional integration

� On the eve of the Opening Session, the ECOWAS MPs and the experts invited by the Parliament attended the inaugural ceremonies of the Biennial Artistic and Cultural Festival, held under the authority of the Head of State, His Excellency President Amadou Toumani TOURE.

� The Malian authorities, namely the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA, and the Prime Minister, His Excellency Mohamed Ahmed Ag Hamani, granted each an audience to the Honourable MPs.

� The inaugural ceremony of the Meeting was presided by the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Professor Ali Nouhoum DIALLO. Several Officials of Mali, including the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister in Charge of Malians Abroad and African Integration, the Minister of Employment, the President of the African Academy of Languages, the representatives of the Departments of Education, Culture and Handicrafts, the Ambassador of Ghana in Mali whose country is now presiding over the destiny of the Community, the representatives of UNESCO and the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophony (AIF), also attended this ceremony.

� In his welcoming speech, the Honourable Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA, Speaker of the National Assembly of Mali, wished the distinguished guests an agreeable stay in Mali. Then, the Minister in charge of Integration invited the Parliamentarians to support the efforts of Mali and the African Academy of Languages in their struggle for the promotion and the valorisation of national languages. The Minister assured the MPs of Mali�s full commitment to ECOWAS Parliament. The Honourable Ali Nouhoum DIALLO, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, insisted on the need for more linguistic research to enable African languages to fulfil their role of integration within ECOWAS.

The following presentations were made by specialists invited on this occasion:

-        Presentation of the African Academy of Languages, by Emmanuel SAGARA, Secretary General of the Academy;

-        Language relationships of the West African populations, by Professor Akoha Albert of the University of Abomey Calavi (Republic of Benin) and Mr Harouna BARRY, independent researcher;

-        Transcription of the languages of the sub-region: state of the art, by Professor Salam DIAKITE, Director of the Documentation Centre of the Academy;

-        The linguistic situation in West Africa: realities and prospects, by Professor Aje Samuel of Nigeria;

-        Strategies for the promotion of national languages in West Africa: the case of Mali, by Dr Ngolo COULIBALY, Director of the Abdoulaye Barry Language Institute, and Mr Sadati NASSOUROU, independent researcher;

-        Case study of the NKo alphabet, by two members of the NKO cultural movement;

-        The promotion of culture and handicrafts in Mali: a calendar of cultural and artistic events in Mali and in West Africa, by Mr Klessigu� A. SANOGO, representing the Ministry of Culture;

-        Education and regional integration, by Professor Boubacar S�ga DIALLO, representing the Ministry of National Education of Mali.

Each presentation was followed by questions from the MPS for more explanations and clarifications. Several recommendations were made:

(i)               About the African Academy of Languages: The ECOWAS MPS, after congratulating the Malian authorities for establishing the African Academy of Languages, urged the African Union to take the necessary steps to make this Panafrican project a reality.

(ii)              About the crossborder languages: The MPs invited the African Academy of Languages, through national language Institutes and Departments, to come up with a comprehensive listing of the languages of the West African region, with as many details as possible. They insisted on the standardisation of the different orthographies for a better introduction of national languages in the different educational systems of ECOWAS States.

(iii)            About the NKO alphabet: The MPS decided to make a strong recommendation to the ECOWAS Parliament for a widespread use of the NKO, which can be used to transcribe all our languages.

(iv)            About the number of languages in the subregion: The MPS found the number of

languages in West Africa a bit exaggerated and invited the African Academy of

����������� Languages to carry out further research on this matter; give the different names

���������� used to refer to a same language within ECOWAS.


� The joint Meeting of ECOWAS Parliament Committees gave the African Academy of Languages the opportunity to launch its web site ( which will hopefully contribute a lot in the development of linguistic research in African. Two speeches were delivered on this occasion.

�� First, Mr Adama SAMASSEKOU, former Minister of Basic Education of Mali, President of the African Academy of Languages, and also President of the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), thanked ACALAN�s partners in general, and UNESCO in particular for their sustained assistance. He also invited the MPs to commit themselves to the realisation of this specialised panafrican Institution.

��� Then, Mr Edouard MATOKO, Head of the UNESCO Office in Mali, acknowledged all the efforts made by the Malian Authorities to promote national languages in all domains.

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