Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has emphasised the importance for every South African school child to have access to literature in their home language.
The Minister was on Thursday addressing the Indigenous Languages Conference, which was hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture, in partnership with Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) in Boksburg.
“At the government level, we have made progress through entrenching language equality through the establishment of the PanSALB and more recently in particular the Official Languages Act of 2013 that demands of our civil service that our people be served in their own languages and the languages of their choice,” the Minister said.
He welcomed PanSALB’s work in monitoring the implementation of the Official Languages Act.
“We have been encouraging all South Africans to visit our libraries and take out books in our indigenous languages. We have taken it upon our own shoulders in a partnership with the National Library to reprint South African literary classics in indigenous languages.
“We have done so with pride and dignity, knowing fully well that disseminating our literature conveyed in our languages is an act of restoration and an assertion of transformation,” he said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared 2019 as the year of Indigenous Languages and envisaged that actions taken during this year will generate increased interest in and enhancement of indigenous languages and their speakers in societies of its member states.
UNESCO has invited the world to become involved in making the year a success by revitalising indigenous languages and boosting their vital role in the sustainable development of their speech communities.