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Sign Language as South Africa’s 12th Official Language

South Africa is unique for many reasons, but diversity is arguably it’s most exceptional attribute. Of course, with that widespread cultural diversity comes a number of indigenous languages. As it stands, there are 11 official South African languages, and Section 6 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right to use the language and participate in the cultural life of his or her choice

However, for quite some time, the deaf community has been overlooked, but that could change soon. Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee has recommended that sign language become the country’s 12th official language.

”This is indeed a positive response not only to the deaf communities but also to the entire country,” said the Chief Executive of the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), Rakwena Monareng.

The last years seems to have been a positive step forward for sign language. Earlier in 2018, it was confirmed that South African sign language (SASL) would be officially recognised as a home language in the education system and that it would be an examinable subject for the National Senior Certificate.

Umalusi, the council for quality assurance in general and further education and training, provided a research report to serve as guidance for SASL as a home language with specific reference to school-based assessment and national examinations.

The extent of the study also covered the understanding how deaf learners are assessed and what kind of resources and materials are required for assessment‚ which included national moderators and evaluators.

The exact date of when the constitution will be amended to include SASL as an official South African language is yet to be determined, but the long-overdue change is imminent.


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