Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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The Development and Implementation of an English Language and Literature Programme for Low-Proficiency Tertiary Learners

Arlys VAN WYK researcher laureate

°1949 South Africa
Master's in English, University of the Free State, South Africa, 1995

The Development and Implementation of an English Language and Literature Programme for Low-Proficiency Tertiary Learners

Arlys van Wyk’s thesis is a highly commendable work, focusing on one of the key levers for sustainable development: the training of future managers and other leading figures. Modern, sustainable development work is and always will be a business of people. In many countries, independence and decolonisation have led to political power for groups which were formerly suppressed, but significant stumbling blocks remain after the transition. In countries such as South Africa, language is demonstrably a major obstacle. Talented young people collide with an education system for which they lack an important success factor: a mastery of the language of instruction. The scientific and language-political debate about language and identity has now made it clear that the proper reorganisation of the education system is a very long-term project, and that multilingualism is an extremely complex, functional phenomenon.
Often, inadequate or interrupted schooling causes great loss: the participation of the young people concerned in social progress is non-existent or highly inadequate, educational opportunities lack effectiveness, the dynamism of emancipation comes to a standstill.
This is why Van Wyk’s research is so commendable. The work sets itself the goal of assessing and improving the academic linguistic competence of candidates for higher education coming from formerly disadvantaged groups, so that their academic careers can proceed without delay. The research is well grounded in existing international research into second-language acquisition. It takes as its starting-point a wide-ranging measurement of linguistic competence with a marked emphasis on the academic components. For the implementation, Van Wyk uses action research, which delivers a natural, rapid link between academic basis, empirical research and implementation. The work is carefully executed, contains a high proportion of empirical observation and is suitably restrained about drawing definitive conclusions.
The work promotes sustainability in numerous respects: it is to a very large extent part of a longer-term undertaking, leads to the direct introduction of improvements, and virtually directly generates a basis for and contents of government policy. It provides valuable openings for further research and policy, clear academic insights and a consistent application of the results.

report by Prof. Pol Cuvelier, Department of Germanic Languages, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium