Salomone Presents at UN Symposium on Language and Sustainable Goals

On April 21st, Professor Rosemary Salomone presented a paper on “Educational Equity,

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Rosemary Salomone

Sustainable Development Goals, and the Commodification of English in the Global Economy” at the Symposium on Language and Sustainable Goals sponsored by the Study Group on Language at the United Nations in cooperation with the Centre for Research and the Documentation on World Language Problems. The abstract of the presentation is as follows:

As English increasingly becomes the dominant lingua franca worldwide, it presents opportunities, challenges, and threats to primary and secondary education. Now widely used among non-native speakers who share neither a common language nor culture, English is no longer a language for ethnic or national identification as languages are conventionally considered. It is an economic skill, a marketable commodity, and a form of cultural capital. At the same time, neo-liberal approaches focusing on competition, efficiency, and accountability have likewise promoted the marketability of education itself. This paper examines the confluence of these forces as they relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on “quality education” (4), “decent work and economic growth” (8), and “reduced inequalities” (10).  It maintains that the interplay between language and education is key to the success of development efforts to eradicate economic and social inequalities especially in emerging economies. To support that proposition, it focuses on select countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, all struggling with the implications of the “rise of English” for language policies in schooling. In the end, it concludes that both inequitable access to quality instruction in English and the widespread provision of primary education in a language that children do not understand are together denying equal rights to educational opportunity to millions of children while overlooking the value of indigenous languages as vehicles for building regional and rural economies.

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