Summer School: "Without change of the language there is no change of the system"

How do we achieve more equality and justice in international development cooperation? System change starts with language, says Moses Isooba, director of the NGO Forum in Uganda.

Why is an event called "International Summer School" when there is no summer in the countries of many participants? Why do some representatives of NGOs say they go "into the field" when they visit projects in an African country on a business trip, but never when they travel to London or Paris on business? Why are Australia or New Zealand not included when we talk about the "global south", even though they are in the southern hemisphere? And how can power be equally distributed if people without English skills cannot participate in discussions about international development cooperation?

These were the questions posed by Moses Isooba, director of the NGO Forum in Uganda. He pleads for a fundamental rethinking of the use of language. Only in this way, he said, can the system of international development cooperation be transformed in such a way that the previously unequal power relations become more balanced.

One must start by moving away from the predominance of English, Spanish or French, he said. Project proposals should be able to be submitted not only in writing, but also in video formats in local languages, for example.

Isoba's presentation was met with much agreement and interest from the audience, as well as many follow-up questions. Some are likely to be discussed further this evening: At 7 p.m. (Central European Time), Muganzi Muhanguzi Isharaza, a communications specialist for international NGOS in the United Kingdom and Uganda, will speak on decolonizing images and language in international NGOS.

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