Education/Newsletter/May 2017/Using WEP to build content in Ghanaian indigenous languages

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Using WEP to build content in Ghanaian indigenous languages[edit]

Author: Mohammed Sadat Abdulai

Masssly in May 2017 discussing WEP with a section of UEW faculty.



Summary:


Article: Wikipedians in Ghana are discussing collaboration with University of Education, Winneba (UEW) to build content for local language Wikimedia projects. Upon invitation following weeks of email correspondence between Masssly and a lecturer at the institution (Abdul-Rahman Fusheini), two volunteers made a trip to pitch the partnership to faculty members at the university's Ajumako campus that houses the College of Languages Education department. This is the first time the Wikipedia Education Program (WEP) will be shifting from any major language to focus on small (or incubating) Wikipedias.

As the lingua franca, English remains the main discourse of education and work in Ghana. Indigenous languages on the other hand, require special type of education to equip a person with similar levels of literacy. This poses difficulty for volunteers who would otherwise have been interested in contributing in indigenous languages.

The Wikimedia Ghana Usergroup is exploring ways of setting up WEPs at institutions that teach local languages, and using it as a means of recruiting expert contributors. This would involve incubating or expanding existing Wikimedia projects in Government of Ghana sponsored languages beginning with a pilot in Dagbani that would build on an initial medical translation project that saw a past UEW student lending hand to the translation of a dozen vital health-related articles into the Dagbani language following the 2014 ebola virus outbreak. Other languages the UEW teaches include Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Nzema and Twi.

While the use of indigenous languages are on the decline, faculty members were excited about the prospects of Wikimedia projects serving the purpose of language preservation platforms that anyone could edit. One faculty member also mentioned the availability of a large corpus of texts in the form literary devices and short stories that this initiative could catalog online to preserve the customs and oral traditions of inherited knowledge of these languages.


Tags: Incubation, Small language Wikipedia, Indigenous language, Dagbani language, Ghanaian languages