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SIL's dedication to language development past and present
(October 2010) SIL Ethiopia broke ground on 15 October for its training center that will include new offices and guest housing. The new facility, to be completed in 2012, will also house the offices of the soon-to-be-launched Ethiopia Comprehensive Project, a collaboration between SIL and five partner organizations to meet the language development needs of more than 30 local language communities.
The ceremony was attended by guests representing SIL Africa Area, Ethiopian churches and affiliated organizations. It was the culmination of a four-year search for land—the first time that SIL Ethiopia has owned property since its beginning in 1973. SIL Ethiopia Director Alemayehu Hailu said, “This is the beginning of a much bigger task in front of us as we continue assisting the many language communities of Ethiopia to develop their languages. And this center will better enable us to assist them. We will not be working alone, however, but in cooperation with our Ethiopian partners every step of the way.”
In response to an invitation by local leaders, the first SIL personnel arrived in Ethiopia in 1973, working mostly under agreements with Addis Ababa University. SIL and the university have collaborated on the linguistic research of approximately 40 languages to date. SIL’s official agreement since 2004 has been with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Registered and licensed by the Federal Charities and Societies Agency as a Foreign Charity, SIL cooperates with government agencies, Ethiopian churches and other partners on various levels in their language development efforts. SIL is working together with five Ethiopian partners to establish and implement a Comprehensive Plan for language development in Ethiopia.
SIL is partnering with both regional and national government agencies in multilingual education projects for nine minority languages. In the areas of literacy and translation, SIL and its local partner organizations are currently working in 25 minority languages of the country. SIL personnel are involved in varying capacities with an additional 10 language projects in Ethiopia.
SIL's field linguists serve ethnolinguistic people groups by working in partnership with them and with local organizations to collect, analyze, organize and publish language and culture data.
Strategic partnerships between SIL, national governments, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions create a network of expertise and resources to equip members of local language communities for leadership roles in their own language development efforts.
As an international nongovernmental organization, SIL has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and formal consultative relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).