Dr. Odejobi of the Compter Science and Engineering Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife, has been awarded a British Commonwealth Fellowship to conduct research at the University of Aston in Birmigham, United Kingdom. By becoming a Commonwealth Fellow in the United kingdom, Odejobi is following in a tradition of almost 19,000 individuals since the scheme began over fifty years ago. Dr. Odejobi will be working with Prof. Anthony Beaumont and Dr. Sylvia Wong, who are first class academics at the University of Aston, which ranked among the best 50 universities globally.
Dr. Odejobi's work will focus on the development of a robust language resource backbone (theoretical and practical) for African Indigenous Languages (AIL) technologies. The research is in the background that, although African population with access to ICT (Information Communication Technologies) devices, such as Mobile devices and the Internet, is growing, the use of these devices in the processing of AIL is hardly possible. This is because AIL, and the African culture in general, are not considered in the conceptualisation, design and implementation of these technologies. The low functional loads and usage of African indigenous languages is gradually transforming the speculation that most AIL will be extinct by the end of the next five decades into a reality.
Language resourses are critical to the development and deployment of large scale and robust language technologies, such as speech synthesis, speech recognition and machine translation systems. They are also necessary in research and development of educational software and tools based on African indigenous languages. Language technologies hold great potential for increasing the functional load (ie. usage) of AIL and preservations of their cultures.
The British Council is administering the Fellowship. Dr. Odejobi's work is also been supported by the African Languages Technologies Initiatives, (Alt-i) which is providing language materials, contents and data for the research. Alt-i, a foremost ICT research and development initiative under the Directorship of Dr. Tunde Adegbola, is an ideginous research centre, based in Bodija, Ibadan.
It will be recalled that Alt-i was co-sponsor of the first research workshop on African Languages Technologies and Constraint Computing at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in July last year.