The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life.
More specifically, the Minority Voices Programme aims to increase the inclusion of the perspectives and opinions of the minorities and the indigenous population in the EU media and more specifically in development issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, the Minority Voices Programme promotes the awareness among development policy-makers of the various needs of minority and indigenous communities, by helping them to advocate for their own rights at a national, regional and international level.
The dedicated webpage of the organization, minorityvoices.org, is a place where both journalists and minority activists are encouraged to participate and to interact with each other. Through this page the members of minorities and indigenous communities, as well as their advocates, can upload their stories on a variety of media forms (video footage, audio, pictures, reports) and advocate for many issues, but most importantly through this page they can engage with the EU-based media, since the journalists are given the possibility to research and download all the available material (under creative commons licenses).
One very important issue that came to light thanks to the the Minority Voices Programme is the extinction of various indigenous languages in Nepal, an issue that Members of the Club de Madrid heard about first hand during a recent mission to the country. There is a gradual loss of the languages such as Kisan, Rai, Kusunda and Baram; these languages are getting replaced by the official language of Nepal, Nepali, contributing to the deterioration of the cultural heritage of various communities.
With as many as 123 dialects and languages spoken in Nepal, the Minority Voices Programme advocates for their protection and their instruction in local schools. A great majority of Nepalese children that come from different indigenous communities and linguistic minority groups encounter learning problems and perform poorly or even choose to leave school because the State has failed to recognize and cater for their diverse linguistic needs. A change in the educational system and the incorporation of all the languages of Nepal in administration and legal issues has been promoted through the Minority Voices Programme and to its ability to connect indigenous groups with the media.