Christiano Moreschi hett schreven:
No it doesn't. The greatest tool for the education
of those poor sods in the 3rd world is the English Wikipedia, plus Spanish, French, etc.
But mostly en.
Well, from a totalitarian point of view, that would be the best. A
totalitarian system gives precendence to what is supposed to be the best
for the society in its entirety (or its dominant faction...). A sytem
that applies the principle of 'freedom' lets the people decide what's
best for them.
Let's make a reality check: I live in Germany. In German public schools
English is in the curriculum for all pupils. You can't graduate from
school (even the most basic degree) without being confronted with
English for several years. I don't know since when. At least since the
1930s. Perhaps even earlier. So almost every German had English lessons
at some point in his life. But de facto opinion research instutes gain
results of about 50 to 60 % when they make representative polls in
Germany about whether people speak English. So roundabout 50 % of all
Germans do not speak English. And we should keep in mind, that "speaking
a foreign language" in many peoples minds is connected to "holidays"
etc. Many of those people who state, that they speak English, could ask
for directions in English-speaking places or they are able to buy
groceries at Wal-Mart or something basic like that. But that doesn't
mean, they would be able to understand encyclopedic content in English.
Numbers are hard to estimate. Perhaps 20 % of all Germans can read and
understand encyclopedic material in English? And even less are able to
_write_ encyclopedic content in English. I'm quite sure this number will
be clearly less than 10 % for Germany. Germany is a fully industrialized
country with a well functioning education system. I guess numbers will
be notedly lower in many other areas of the world.
At least 80 % of the human population on earth does not understand
English. Let's think about it: What's easier? To teach billions of
people English or to create good encyclopedias in many languages?
I cannot estimate the effort it needs to teach all people English. At
least in Germany 70 years of teaching wasn't enough to make the Germans
fluent in English. And the Romans and later the French and Spanish are
trying to assimilate the Basque since 2000 years and Basque is still
around and vivid. So I can say: It needs _much_effort to make one
language known to all people.
The effort necessary to create a reasonsable encyclopedia is easier to
estimate. English Wikipedia met the milestone of 100,000 articles in
February 2003. According to
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Editing_frequency> there were
107 persons with at least 100 edits in the month of February 2003. 100
edits a month is a rough measure of "users dedicated to the project", I
guess. That means 107 dedicated contributors were able to create a
100,000 entry encyclopedia in two years (actually it were even less
users most of the time). That should be feasible for smaller languages
too. If there is good and efficient public outreach it should even be
doable for languages with less than 100,000 speakers, to create a
100,000 entry encyclopedia in two years. In western societies about one
percent of the total population is teachers. The number of retired
teachers will range somewhere between 0.5 to 0.3 compared to the number
of active teachers. So there are 3 to 5 retired teachers per 1000
inhabitants. So in a population of 20,000 there will be around 100
retired teachers. If we could reach all those retired teachers and
convince them to do something for Wikipedia in their free time (of which
there is much for retired people) it should be possible to create a
100,000 entry encyclopedia in two years. Including other retired
academics, non-academics, non-retired people, students etc. it should be
possible for languages with even fewer speakers. Of course only with
very good outreach...
And off course from a totalitarian point of view it's still a waste of
time. But from a cultural positive point of view it's feasible.