South Africa Culture Quest

How language affects culture and policy?


Presently there are 11 official languages in South Africa.  After apartheid was dismantled, the new constitution mandates multilingualism.  So when you have 11 different official languages in a country that reflect the different cultures, things can become complicated where education policy is concerned. 

Consider this!! What do you think your educational experience would be before and after apartheid?


History of apartheid

The Legislative Implementation of Apartheid

The National Party, in the 1950's, set about introducing laws to give apartheid a legislative reality that could not easily be overturned. Such laws aimed at separating whites and blacks, at instituting as a legal principle the theory that whites should be treated more favorably than blacks and that separate facilities need not be equal, and at providing the state with the powers deemed necessary to deal with any opposition. Separate and Unequal was the policy outcome of these reforms

 Language and Policy Before Reform Act of 1996

                    During aparthied the official language of South Africa was Afrikaans.  Afrikaans was used in school, in court, in all the places that governmental authority was used.  There were only certain people (mainly whites) that had access to learn Afrikaans in school because not everyone attended school, and also most people in South Africa spoke Bantu.  Also when things needed legislation by the courts, the language used was afrikaans.  This presented a problem.  Citizen's rights can not be protected if a citizen cannot communicate in an official way.  Only the rights of those citizens that could speak Afrikaans were being protected.  So when the regime of apartheid is dismantled, now citizens could be represented and their rights, as a result, be protected.   Now there are eleven oficial languages in South Africa.  According to the constitution of South Africa, each is equally important

South Africa Today

Education and Literacy today:

         A High School type education system primarily served racial minority until 1990s. Today there is Nine years compulsory universal education; much struggles with shortages of schools, and qualified teachers. According to the census there is are over 7million primary pupils, 4 million secondary pupils  There are not enough schools to go around for the incredible amount of students. In adults, there only 2 of 3 are literate. There are Nineteen major universities and two correspondence; there is extensive vocational and technical training available.    Although these figures are crude, they reflect a much more hopeful situation today than during the apartheid regime.  The multilinguism movement might not be the most efficient policy to institute in a nation that needs education reform, yet it allows for representation and a sense of equality.  It also promotes a true and powerful sense of value in a society that was torn apart for so many years

 Language Today:

  Language today is viewed as an integral instrument of the nation's development of human resources it contributes in establishing democracy, promoting equality and human rights, developing the people of the country, implementing affirmative action, administering the country effectively, developing national integration and promoting mutual tolerance and respect, among the different cultural, linguistic, religious,  racial and socio-political groups.  It also plays a role in retaining the country’s cultural diversity. 

The constitutional language stipulations are as follows:

  • The constitution of South Africa , in the Bill of rights recognizes 11 official languages as the "languages of our people".  It also understands that the government needs to work towards equality in languages.
  • The constitution also makes provision for the use of any of the official languages to be used in an official venue.  Whether it is in court, school people must be represented.  The intention of this clause is to avoid and never repeat apartheid and the cultural sense of inequality.  Also this provision madates the provinces to accomodate the people they represent.
  • How will the people know they are being represented properly?  Well the government needs to keep track of the "use of their official languages". 
  • All official languages must be treated with "esteem" and "equatably" under the constitution.    Esteem is a word that has to do with cultural value, and equatably encompasses quantifiabily under the law.This clause seems to recognize the limits and the overreaching range of the law.
  • The Pan South African Language Board is a human rights division mandated by the constitution of South Africa to oversee and protect multilingualism policy in governmental instituions.  They not only protect written aspects, but also verbal aspects of information

As you can see, language is the voice of the southafrican culture.  This culture speaks in more than eleven languages.  apartheid was not allowing the voices of south Africa to be heard.  Now, with the present ploicyin place, it is the beginning of the development toward a new South African culture--the voice of eleven languages.