The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) posted – on its YouTube channel, website and social media accounts – a video in the Hausa, Swahili, Mandingo, Fulani, Wolof, Fur, and Nubian languages, to address the broader public in the Sub-Saharan countries and contribute to raising their awareness about the methods of protection from COVID-19 and ways to halt its spread.
The move comes as part of the program “Languages of Africa, Bridges of Culture and History” previously launched by ICESCO to speak to the African locals in their own languages. It also falls within the framework of the “ICESCO Digital Home” initiative supporting member states, especially the neediest countries most exposed to the risks of the current world health crisis triggered by the coronavirus.
As part of the same initiative, ICESCO posted on its website last May several infographics in the abovementioned languages to ensure health education and raise preventive awareness. These infographics are downloadable to provide universal access to them.
Through this awareness-raising video in the local languages of the African communities, ICESCO aims to highlight the crucial role of the local languages of the Sub-Saharan African peoples in disseminating basic knowledge and facilitate awareness and guidance for all social groups.
The organization also seeks to add further efficiency to the programs of health information and prevention education in Africa, ensure their dissemination to various social groups; promote the cultural, social and educational roles of the African languages; and keep these languages up-to-date with the information technology and benefit from digital publishing through the internet and social media.
It is noteworthy that “Languages of Africa, Bridges of Culture and History” falls within a joint project with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to use the Arabic script in writing the languages of the Muslim communities in Africa. It consisted of educational, scientific, cultural and awareness-raising aspects and includes three ambitious programs, in cooperation with the International University of Africa in Sudan (Yusuf Al Khalifa Center for Writing Languages in the Arabic Script), including a program for computerizing the African languages by designing computer keyboards of 15 languages and developing specialized software for the automated Arabic script.
The second program aims to improve the writing system of the African languages in the Arabic script by providing educational tools and materials, organizing training sessions for experts on the Arabic script, and preparing reading materials and teacher’s guide and educational media. The third program aims to establish academic chairs on Arabic script.