South African president vows to promote African languages

FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ./REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that his government is actively working to make sure that African languages should be offered in all of South African schools to wipe out apartheid.

“By the end of next year, we are aiming to ensure that all of South Africa’s 23,000 public schools offer an African language,” Ramaphosa said at a National Heritage Day celebration in Upington, Northern Cape Province.

Over the last few years, South Africa has reduced the number of public schools that do not teach African languages from 2,500 to just over 460.

“We are working with our institutions of higher learning to develop lexicography and terminology development units, and offer bursary schemes to students wanting to major in African languages,” Ramaphosa said.

Under colonialism and apartheid, African languages were degraded and denigrated, and particularly the languages of the Khoi and San people were marginalized, Ramaphosa said.

“Every single language spoken in this country has equal value and equal worth,” said Ramaphosa, adding that there is no language in this country superior to another.

He said his government is doing everything within its means to promote and preserve all South African languages.

“We hope to see all indigenous languages occupying their rightful place in our society,” Ramaphosa said.

The promotion of indigenous languages is part of the broader effort to empower South African people and restore their dignity, he added.