Language sector urged to collaborate on efforts to support a multilingual state

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Director-General, Vusumuzi Mkhize, has called on the National Language Stakeholder Engagement Forum to move with speed in standardising, developing and promoting South African languages across the board, working closely with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB).

“Very often, we tend to work in silos, this engagement is meant to shift this mind-set in order to see multilingualism blossoming fully in our country,” Mkhize said on Thursday.

He was addressing the National Language Stakeholder Engagement Forum hosted by Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa at the Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History, Pretoria.

“The challenges faced by the speakers of different languages in the country are still serious as all of us are not able to access information readily in the language of our choice. We are still not able to walk into government institutions and be serviced in our own languages.

“If we begin to work together in the same direction, we will realise that our destination is attainable in support of a multilingual state as enshrined in the Constitution and go beyond to ensure we strengthen our democracy,” Mkhize said.

He encouraged the sector has to work hard to ensure that citizens realise the joy of having the 11 official languages, which are soon to be 12 with the inclusion of the South African language as one of them.

PanSALB has been working tirelessly all these years to make sure that the deaf community is not excluded in any form of engagements as citizens of this country.

The Minister said the stakeholder engagement was an act of reclamation, restoration and decolonisation so that the languages of education are the languages of the cultures and technologies.

“The signs are evident that those who have been able to take advantage of the fruits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, those who own technologies powering the digital economy and those who own the platforms, the digital infrastructure and vast networks, those who have pulled the creative talent of digital and content creators have enriched themselves during this global period of physical distancing.

“In order to overcome the digital divide and the attainment of universal access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) we have a long way to go to cover the masses of the world’s people,” Mthethwa said.

The purpose of the National Language Stakeholder Engagement Forum is among others to coordinate, align and monitor the implementation of language policies.

Hosted in collaboration with the PanSALB, the forum will draw attention to the Implementation of the use of official languages Act of 2012 and its regulations; officialisation of South African Sign Language (SASL); and the development of Khoi, Nama, and San languages.

The National Language Stakeholder Engagement Forum consists of representatives from national government departments, provincial departments of sport, arts and culture, local government, and the PanSALB and other relevant structures to ensure synergy in terms.

Source: South African Government News Agency