Salomone Presents and Chairs Panel at Symposium Organized by Study Group on Language and the United Nations

On May 12, Professor Rosemary Salomone chaired a panel on “Educational Access” and presented a paper on “Global English, Vulnerable Populations, and Educational Access: Lessons from the Courts in Three Countries” at an International Symposium on “Language, the Sustainable Development Goals and Vulnerable Populations” organized by the Study Group on Language and the United Nations, of which she is a member.

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Rosemary Salomone

The following is the Abstract of the paper:

As English has become the world’s dominant lingua franca, it has sparked vigorous debate over its educational merits, its relation to national identity and culture, and its impact on educational access and outcomes. In the post-colonial world where multilingualism is the norm, the arguments typically focus on the unequal availability of quality English instruction on the one hand, and the marginalization of indigenous languages and, in some cases, other colonial languages on the other. These problems typically are addressed (though never fully resolved) in the political arena of national laws and regulations and local policies and practices. On occasion they spill over into the courts as rights-based claims invoking provisions within each nation’s Constitution. This paper looks as three such cases and how they relate to Sustainable Development Goal # 4 to “ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality education.” Specifically it discusses judicial decisions from South Africa, India, and Indonesia where the constitutional courts have balanced institutional and state autonomy against the rights of parents, teachers, and especially students set against diverse linguistic and historical backdrops. It teases out common themes running through these cases despite disparate facts, rulings, and approaches to liberty and equality. It suggests that these decisions present a sense of clarity, proportionality and political distance, framed in the language of rights, that often escape policy makers and development specialists. At the same time, the paper underscores the limits of judicial action and the inability of courts to address the collateral effect on rights not specifically presented before them or to fully resolve the tension between liberty and equality interests. Finally, it notes how the underlying lines of reasoning implicitly hold broader implications for promoting linguistic justice and equal educational access among vulnerable populations of students including indigenous groups, immigrants, and refugees across the educational spectrum.

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