Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the discussion about the developmental value of knowledge by reflecting on the “knowledge for development” (K4D) paradigm. In particular, it draws attention to the interaction between linguistic and communicative processes and the areas of power, knowledge and education. This is considered fruitful to understanding the complex and subtle mechanisms in the reproduction of the North‐South knowledge and power divide. Design/methodology/approach – The authors apply an interdisciplinary approach combining concepts from development studies, sociology of education and sociolinguistics. The article first contextualizes the K4D paradigm. It then reflects on knowledge hierarchies and the role of language. Second, it looks at donor policies and the conditions for higher education in developing countries. The Burkina Faso Country Gateway serves as an example of a donor‐driven K4D initiative. An analysis of its web site based on sociolinguistic approaches is used to exemplify the above mentioned interrelation. Findings – The article concludes that the K4D paradigm asserts rather than flattens North‐South knowledge hierarchies. To allow knowledge production to be inclusive, it is necessary to reflect on how knowledge management and ICT tools must be structured in order to enable interaction with disadvantaged user groups and to facilitate democratic and participative processes. Originality/value – The interplay between power and knowledge asymmetries with language and communication processes is rarely reflected upon in the context of development. This paper seeks to increase the attention paid to these topics.
Multicultural Education & Technology Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 9, 2012
Keywords: Knowledge for development; Knowledge hierarchies; Language; Communication; Higher education; Development gateway; Burkina Faso
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