The vocabulary of languages around the world develops and
changes over time to keep pace with society, but some languages don’t just fail
to keep pace with change – they actually become extinct and cease to be spoken
or written at all.
Dr Janet Lakareber designed Acoli Accented Orthography with
Diacritical Marks, a writing system for the Acoli dialect, to help people
learn how to read and write in the dialect. Janet was researching
computer-assisted language learning when she discovered the global concern of
language extinction, and wanted to do something to reverse a trend which is
seeing irreplaceable knowledge being lost to future generations.
Developing systems to teach and transmit language
Dr Lakareber set out to research two key areas – one was an
Information System (for Computer Assisted Language Learning), while the other
was a framework for the preservation and transmitting of local knowledge.
As her research developed, Janet narrowed her efforts on the
framework for knowledge preservation and this became the primary focus of her
final study. Dr Lakareber’s found that a classroom education provides explicit
knowledge, but community education can have a different setting depending on
the community in question, and can deliver tacit knowledge. If community
learning is lost, then knowledge – including languages – might not be passed on
to younger generations.
With that in mind, Dr Lakareber developed a theory called
Community Specific Pedagogical
Framework, which future researchers can use to help any community revive
and transmit knowledge.
There is a growing problem in society where younger people do not see the value of older people in society, even though older generation holds expert knowledge ... as a result, valuable skills might not be passed on to newer generations, and are more likely to die out
Dr Janet Lakareber
Preserving knowledge for future generations
Janet is rightly proud of the possible implications. “The
framework can help to revive knowledge that might not otherwise be passed on to
younger generations,” she says.
“The knowledge flow from the elderly to
younger generations is often not identified, which can lead to isolation and
even violence towards older generations. As a result, those valuable skills
might not be passed on to newer generations, and are more likely to die out.”
She also included an international element to her research,
working with two schools in Uganda, Gulu Core Primary Teachers College and
Demonstration School Gulu, as she built, developed and tested her framework.
When it comes to the future, Dr Lakareber is excited about
further work in her field that might see her framework put to the test.
be very exciting to see the Community Specific Pedagogical Framework applied to
a community to find out how it works,” she says. “And of course, the ultimate
aim is more than research theory – it is about preserving and passing on knowledge
that would otherwise be lost from generation to generation. I hope my work
plays a part in keeping that knowledge and understanding alive for the benefit of