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Final Draft

LANGUAGE POLICY AND PLAN FOR SOUTH AFRICA

By

The Advisory Panel

to the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology

  • Die Taalsekretariaat
  • Doelstelling
  • 29 February 2000


    CONTENTS

    LIST OF ACRONYMS

    1 INTRODUCTION

    1.1 Purpose

    2 CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

    2.1 Introduction
    2.2 Strategic goals
    2.3 Principles

    3 LANGUAGE POLICY REQUIREMENTS

    4 LANGUAGE POLICY

    4.1 Language policy on internal oral communication for all government structures
    4.2 Language policy on internal written communication for all government structures
    4.3 Language policy on external oral communication for all government structures
    4.4 Language policy on external written communication for all government structures
    4.5 National and provincial legislatures
    4.6 Local government
    4.7 Administration of Justice
    4.7.1 Language of courts
    4.7.2 Language of record
    4.7.3 Interpreting
    4.8 Language/s of learning and teaching
    4.9 Mandated public media
    4.10 Public Service
    4.10.1 Language Code of Conduct for public servants
    4.10.2 Language units in government departments
    4.11 Bodies supported by government
    4.12 Private sector

    5 IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

    5.1 Language units
    5.2 Language Code of Conduct
    5.3 Language audits
    5.4 Language awareness campaigns
    5.5 Regulatory body for the accreditation of Translators and Interpreters
    5.6 Telephone Interpreting Service for South Africa (TISSA)
    5.7 Development of African languages
    5.8 Language and technology
    5.9 Languages of learning and teaching
    5.10 Budgeting

    ADVISORY PANEL ON LANGUAGE POLICY TO THE MINISTER OF ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

    Dr Neville Alexander
    Ms Zubeida Desai, chairperson of PANSALB
    Prof. Nhlanhla Maake
    Dr Langa Mathenjwa
    Mr Dumisani Nthsangase
    Prof. Hennie Strydom


    LIST OF ACRONYMS

    AISA — Africa Institute of South Africa
    CBO — Community — Based Organisation
    CHE — Council for Higher Education
    DACST — Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology
    DOE — Department of Education
    DPSA — Department of Public Service and Administration
    LASU — Language Association of Southern African Universities
    LIEP — Language in Education Policy
    DOE — Department of Education
    NGO — Non — Governmental Organisation
    NLB — National Language Body
    NLS — National Language Service
    NLU — National Lexicography Unit
    NQF — National Qualifications Framework
    OAU — Organisation for African Unity
    PANSALB — Pan South African Language Board
    PLC — Provincial Language Committee
    RDP — Reconstruction and Development Programme
    SADC — Southern African Development Community
    SAQA — South African Qualifications Authority
    TISSA — Telephone Interpreting Service for South Africa
    UNESCO — United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation


    1. INTRODUCTION

      It can hardly be news to anyone that we are living in a period of intense social change. But what is perhaps less obvious is how important language is within the changes that are taking place.
      — Norman Fairclough

    1.1 Purpose

    This language policy is intended as an enabling framework for promoting South Africa’s linguistic diversity and encouraging respect for language rights within the policy framework of building and consolidating a united democratic South African nation.

    The purpose of this policy document is to set out a coherent language policy and implementation plan for a multilingual dispensation within the parameters of the Constitution and in concert with broad social planning and transformation in South Africa. In line with its mandate, the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) will oversee the implementation of the policy and the plan.

    We can only develop a language policy for South Africa if we take into account the broad acceptance of linguistic diversity, social justice, the principle of equal access to public services and programmes, and respect for language rights. This language policy, however, is making its appearance at a decisive point in the history, when public and private institutions are taking ad hoc language decisions that tend to negate the constitutional provisions and requirements relating to language. This situation is directly linked to ongoing language domination and widespread, but short-sighted, bureaucratic attitudes against implementing multilingualism.

    In view of the fact that government is committed to the constitutional provisions on language and to maximising South Africa’s human resources, it is imperative that the language policy be implemented as a matter of urgency. This will reinforce other government strategies to consolidate national unity and democracy in South Africa. Where anomalies exist between this language policy and other policies in the public and private sector, this policy should take precedence.

    Although government has many roles to play in the implementation of the language policy, this document looks mainly at government’s core functions such as formulating a regulatory policy framework, and managing and allocating resources at national and provincial level.

    2. CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

    2.1 Introduction

    The language policy is based on section 6 of the Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996) and the following other relevant provisions pertaining to:

    • Equality and language (section 9(3))
    • Language in education (section 29(2))
    • Language and culture (section 30)
    • Cultural, religious and linguistic communities (section 31(1))
    • Language with regard to arrested, detained and accused persons (section 35(3) and (4))

    Section 6 of the Constitution provides the primary legal and constitutional framework for multilingualism, the use of the official languages and the promotion of respect and tolerance for South Africa’s linguistic diversity. Amongst other things, it establishes the following norms:

    • All official languages must enjoy “parity of esteem” and be treated equitably.
    • The status and use of indigenous languages must be enhanced.
    • Government must take legislative and other measures to regulate and monitor the use of official languages.

    The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) also charges government with the responsibility of establishing and implementing “a language policy that encourages and supports, financially and otherwise, the utilisation of all languages of South Africa” (paragraph 3.4.3.7).

    DACST’s vision for promoting multilingualism is outlined in its corporate goal of supporting “the linguistic diversity of our country as a resource in empowering all South Africans fully to participate in their country’s social, political and economic life”.

    2.2 Strategic goals

    The language policy sets out to achieve the following strategic goals:

    1. To facilitate individual empowerment and national development by promoting the equitable use of the official languages and thus ensuring that all South Africans have the freedom to exercise their language rights by using the official language/s of their choice in a range of contexts. This applies in particular to equality of access to government services and programmes, and to knowledge and information.
    2. To develop and promote the official African languages of South Africa, i.e. Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu.
    3. To provide for a regulatory framework for the effective management of the use of the official languages in the Public Service.
    4. To support economic development through the promotion of multilingualism.
    5. To provide for the learning of South African languages by all South African citizens in order to promote national unity and multiculturalism.

    2.3 Principles

    In accordance with the Constitution, the basis for a comprehensive language policy consists of the following principles:

    (a) Promoting and protecting linguistic and cultural diversity.

    (b) Supporting democracy through the entrenchment of language equity and language rights.

    (c) Asserting the view that multilingualism is a resource.

    (d) Redressing the marginalisation of indigenous languages.

    (e) Encouraging the learning of other South African languages.

    3. LANGUAGE POLICY REQUIREMENTS

    The basic requirements for a language policy for South Africa have to be —

    • consistent with the constitutional provisions on language, including those relating to language as a human right; and are
    • fundamental to the management of our diverse language resources, the achievement of government’s goals for the promotion of democracy, equity and national unity, and addressing the language use, needs and priorities of the people of South Africa.

    These requirements are:

    (a) Supporting the development of human resources with a view to implementing the policy of multilingualism.

    (b) Professionalisation of the activities of language practitioners through legislation.

    (c) Development of an efficient language industry by, among other things, using and developing appropriate technology.

    (d) Special redress for the marginalised languages, that is, the African languages including the Khoe and San Languages, as well as Sign Language/s.

    (e) Supporting the provision for the learning and teaching of South African languages.

    (f) Encouraging the private sector to promote, support and implement a policy of multilingualism.

    (g) Providing adequate financial support for the implementation of the language policy.

    4. LANGUAGE POLICY

    For purposes of this policy document, language policy refers to, and is being proposed for, the following sectors:

    • All government structures (national, provincial and local government)
    • Bodies supported by government
    • Private sector

    The Advisory Panel recommends that DACST decides between the following options:

    Option 1:

    In order to ensure “parity of esteem and the equitable use of the official languages”, the principle of using four categories of languages on a rotational basis must be adopted in relevant government structures, except in instances where -

    (i) all eleven official languages have to be used, and
    (ii) the availability of (a) document(s) in a particular language is essential for the stable and effective operations of government at any level. In such cases, documents should be translated into the relevant language.

    These categories are:

    • Nguni group (isiNdebele, isiZulu, siSwati, isiXhosa)
    • Sotho group (Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana)
    • Tshivenda / Xitsonga
    • English / Afrikaans

    The Advisory Panel is aware that unlike languages within the Nguni and the Sotho groups respectively, which are mutually intelligible to a high degree, Tshivenda and Xitsonga are not mutually intelligible. The reason for coupling these two is essentially a practical one related to resource constraints in the short-term. In the longer term, it is essential that these languages be uncoupled. The Advisory Panel thus recommends that within the next five to ten years, affirmative action measures be adopted with regard to these two languages.

    The Advisory Panel is aware that currently there is an expectation that all government documentation should always be in English and occasionally also in other South African languages. If this expectation were to be endorsed by this policy document, it would be in conflict with both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution. It is for this reason that the Advisory Panel has coupled Afrikaans with English, as has been done with all the other languages. Given the school language policy under the previous regime, it is a reasonable assumption that first language speakers of these languages are bilingual in English and Afrikaans.

    The following model of Option 1 provides some idea of how it could work in practice, using DACST as an example.

    DACST 2000
    1. Annual Report — English, isiXhosa, Sesotho and Tshivenda
    2. Information Brochure for South Africans- Afrikaans, isiZulu, Sepedi and Xitsonga
    3. South African Languages Bill — English, isiNdebele, Setswana and Tshivenda
    4. South African Languages Act — All eleven official languages
    5. DACST Newsletter — Afrikaans, siSwati, Sesotho and Xitsonga

    Option 2:

    The principle of using six languages, except in instances where all eleven languages have to be used, ensures “parity of esteem and the equitable use of the official languages”. The six languages are:

    • Tshivenda
    • Xitsonga
    • Afrikaans
    • English
    • One language from the Nguni language group, on a rotational basis
    • One language from the Sotho language group, on a rotational basis.

    The model above for Option 1 could be adapted for Option 2.

    4.1 Language policy on internal oral communication for all government structures

    By consensus, all government structures must agree on their working languages for internal oral communication, intra- and inter-departmentally, unless other rules apply, and subject to the proviso that no person shall be prevented from using the language of his or her preference, at any given time.

    4.2 Language policy on internal written communication for all government structures

    By consensus, all government structures must agree on their working languages for internal written communication, intra- and inter-departmentally, unless other rules apply, provided that every effort be made to comply with the language code of conduct.

    4.3 Language policy on external oral communication for all government structures

    All official government communication with the public must take place in the language/s of the target audience, with the assistance of interpreters and other technical means such as simulcast and sub-titling, wherever necessary.

    4.4 Language policy on external written communication for all government structures

    In the case of written communication between government departments and citizens, the language of the citizens’ choice will be used.

    If government initiates the communication, the language of the target audience will, as a rule, determine the languages to be used.

    Subject to periodic language audits, government publications shall be issued in the language/s of the target audience.

    International communication on the part of government will normally be in English or in the preferred language of the relevant country.

    4.5 National and provincial legislatures

    By the year 2005, any of the eleven official languages will be used in all legislative activities, including Hansard publications, as a matter of right, provided that in the case of provincial legislatures, regional circumstances will determine the language/s to be used.

    4.6 Local government

    Local governments must determine the language use and preference of their communities within an enabling provincial language policy framework. Upon the determination of the language use and preference of the communities, local governments must, in broad consultation with their communities, develop, publicise and implement a language policy.

    4.7 Administration of Justice

    4.7.1 Language of courts

    Accused persons must be tried in the language of their choice. Wherever this is not practicable, the proceedings must be interpreted into that language.

    Judicial officers have the discretion to decide upon the language to be used during court proceedings, subject to the provisions of the previous paragraph.

    4.7.2 Language of record

    The language of record shall be the language of the proceedings of the court and translation shall be provided for wherever necessary.

    4.7.3 Interpreting

    By the year 2010 any accused person in criminal proceedings, applicant or respondent in civil proceedings, as well as any witness in any court, shall have access to a professional interpreter accredited by the Regulatory Body for the Accreditation of Translators and Interpreters, if required. The same will apply mutatis mutandis to the operations of the Department of Safety and Security.

    4.8 Language/s of Learning and Teaching

    Since language, as a fundamental instrument of learning and teaching, is at the heart of all education, the Department of Education shall finalise and implement an appropriate and generally accepted policy on language/s of learning and teaching by the year 2005.
    4.9 Mandated Public Media

    Consonant with the Broadcasting Act, 1999 (Act No. 4 of 1999), all official South African languages must be provided for by the public broadcaster. In regard to television, an increasing amount of broadcasting airtime shall be progressively provided for the African languages and Sign Language/s, up to a point where all official South African languages are accorded an equitable proportion of airtime.

    The public service provided by the corporation must strive to be of high quality in all of the languages used.

    4.10 Public Service

    The provisions of paragraphs 4.1 to 4.4 will apply mutatis mutandis.

    4.10.1 Language Code of Conduct for Public Servants

    A language code of conduct shall be formulated and implemented in order to render effective services to the public. DACST, together with the DPSA, in consultation with other government departments, shall be assigned the task to develop this language code of conduct by the year 2001. This code shall also provide for disciplinary measures in cases of transgression.

    4.10.2 Language units in government departments

    A language unit shall be established in each government department at national and provincial level by the DPSA, in collaboration with relevant structures, by the year 2005. The function of these units will be to deal with specific language issues of a particular department arising from this language policy, and to liaise on language matters with other departments.

    4.11 Bodies supported by government

    All of the above from 4.1 to 4.10 applies mutatis mutandis to bodies supported by government.

    4.12 Private Sector

    Government shall encourage and support private enterprises to develop and implement their own language policies in consonance with the framework of this language policy.

    5. IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

    5.1 Language units

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    One or more persons in each government department to carry out functions as in 4.10.2.

    DPSA and DACST, in collaboration with all national and provincial government departments.

    All national and provincial government departments.

    2000 - 2005

    5.2 Language Code of Conduct
    1

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Draft a binding policy document, stipulating how public servants have to communicate and interact with the public so that language becomes an instrument for rendering effective service to the public.

    DACST, PANSALB and DPSA, in consultation with other government departments.

    All public servants.

    2000 - 2001

    5.3 Language audits

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Conduct language surveys in order to enable government structures to make informed decisions in terms of this language policy.

    DACST and PANSALB

    Statistics SA

    Government structures;

    DACST, PANSALB, and other interested parties.

    2000 - 2001 and periodically, as required.

    5.4 Language awareness campaigns

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    i) Raise the status of African languages including Khoe and San Languages and Sign Language/s by conducting language awareness campaigns.

    ii) Identify other language issues of national concern and raise awareness on the role of language in society.

    DACST, PANSALB and government departments.

    The public.

    2001 and ongoing.

    5.5 Regulatory Body for the Accreditation of Translators and Interpreters

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Set up a body in order to accredit translators and interpreters and to regulate the profession.

    PANSALB, DACST and SAQA.

    Translators and interpreters, and training institutions.

    2000 - 2001.

    5.6 Telephone Interpreting Service for South Africa (TISSA)

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Establish a multilingual telephone interpreting service to facilitate access to public services and programmes in citizens' language of choice.

    DACST, relevant government departments and telecommunications providers.

    The public.

    2000 - 2001.

    5.7 Development of African languages

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    i) Identify priority areas for the development of African languages.

    PANSALB, DACST, and organs of civil society.

    All users of African languages and other affected people.

    2000 - 2001, and ongoing.

    ii) Support existing structures which are promoting the development of African languages.

    PANSALB, PLCs, NLBs, DACST, institutions of learning, research institutions, professional bodies, NGOs, CBOs, and government departments.

    Institutions of learning, research institutions, professional bodies, NGOs, CBOs and materials providers.

    Ongoing.

    iii) Establish and assist in establishing new structures and programmes for the development of African languages.

    PANSALB, PLCs, NLBs, NLUs, DACST, institutions of learning, research institutions, private sector, individuals, professional bodies, NGOs, CBOs, and government departments.

    Institutions of learning, research institutions, professional bodies, individuals, private sector, NGOs and CBOs.

    2000 and ongoing.

    iv) Support for projects working with Southern African countries which share cross-border languages and collaborating with other African countries in the development of African languages.

    SADC, DACST, PANSALB, Office of the Presidency, Departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Trade and Industry, AISA, UNESCO, OAU and LASU.

    Institutions developing African languages in Southern Africa and other African countries.

    2000 and ongoing.


    5.8 Language and technology

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Adapt and develop appropriate technology in order to facilitate the development and use of South African languages.

    DACST, PANSALB, Department of Communications, NLUs, language practitioners, institutions of learning, research institutions and IT agencies.

    Language programme providers, language practitioners, language users, government departments and agencies.

    2000 and ongoing.

    5.9 Languages of learning and teaching

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Finalise and systematically implement the existing LIEP.

    DOE, PANSALB, NGOs and Institutions of learning.

    All learners, educators, and training institutions.

    2000 - 2005.

    5.10 Budgeting

    Activity

    Actor/s

    Target group/s

    Time frame

    Provide adequate financial support for the implementation of the language policy.

    Department of Finance, DACST, PANSALB and all government departments and relevant structures.

    All agencies responsible for implementing the language policy.

    2001/2002 and ongoing.

    boontoe


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