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EDUCATION SELECT COMMITTEE
1 June 1998
DIFFICULTIES EXPERIENCED BY PAN SOUTH AFRICAN LANGUAGE BOARD (PANSLAB): BRIEFING
Issues discussed were PANSLAB’s administrative problems. These problems included the resignation of two of its members and the fact that most of the employees are working on a part-time basis due to other commitments as well as the NCOP’s exclusion from these issues. In conclusion it was agreed that all PANSLAB-related correspondence would be forwarded to the Select Committees. PANSLAB and the Lexicographical Units would work jointly on promoting all official languages, and yet remain as independent bodies.
The Committee Chairperson indicated that the Pan South African Language Board (PANSLAB) has serious administrative problems, but a form of consensus has to be reached on Pan South African Language Board’s function regarding language development. She highlighted the importance of finding solutions on those aspects regarding language differences.
South Africa is special because of the eleven official languages which exist. However, this multilingualism is the cause of the problems experienced by the Pan South African Language Board, the Department of Arts and Culture and Language, Science and Technology (DACST) and the Department of Public Services and Administration (DPSA).
Ms Heugh of the Pan South African Language Board confirmed the resignation of two of its members and the difficulties experienced with the employment of part-time members. She feels that the Pan South African Language Board and the Lexicographical Units should join forces. Dictionaries in the eleven official languages could thus be made available efficiently as Pan South African Language Board and the Lexicographical Units would assist each other in the actual compilation and publication of these dictionaries.
Reference was also made to the financial situation of the Lexicographical Units. It was concluded, that the budget for language development be increased so that all languages are funded equally. The budget for Afrikaans is considerably high, meaning that this language receives more recognition. Ms Heugh made it clear that if the budget for all languages should increase, the budget for Afrikaans should decrease in order to attain equal status.
In her closing statement, she concluded that despite the Pan South African Language Board and the Lexicographical Units' joint attempt to promote all official languages, the Lexicographical Unit should still function independently.
Mr Swanepoel of Pan South African Language Board, complained that amendments to the PANSALB Act (No 59 of 1995) had been drafted and discussed without the knowledge of the National Council of Provinces. The Chairperson, Ms I Direko, agreed with Mr Swanepoel on this point.
The law advisor confirmed that the matter had not as yet been taken to Parliament, and he assured the National Council of Provinces that they would have been notified and informed on this matter in due course.
Zubeida Desai From Pan South African Language Board, responded to Mr Swanepoel’s statement by requesting for clarification on the relationship between Pan South African Language Board and the National Council of Provinces and the role of the National Council of Provinces in the language issue. She feels that Pan South African Language Board should function as an independent body with the assistance of the various parliamentary committees.
A committee member (ANC) raised the issue of Pan South African Language Board’s accountability. Pan South African Language Board claims to be active and yet he is unaware of any records to prove their activities. He stated the fact that Pan South African Language Board’s exclusion of the National Council of Provinces could be a sign of their inefficiency and lack of strategy. He felt that something drastic should be done to include the National Council of Provinces.
Another committee member stated that he supported the Pan South African Language Board and their efforts to promote all languages. It was evident that the Pan South African Language Board could do well if they would ensure that all languages receive equal recognition and promotion.
In closing, Mr Swanepoel stated that the Pan South African Language Board should not be affiliated to the Department of Arts Culture Science and Technology. He however, agreed on the Lexicographical Units and Pan South African Language Boards joint attempt to promote all languages . Mr Swanepoel requested that all correspondence related to Pan South African Language Board’s activities be forwarded to the appropriate Select Committees, as this would prevent the confusion and exclusion of all important bodies.
It is important to take cognisance of the fact that present at this meeting were Mr. Du Toit of The Department of Public Services and Mr. Beukes of the Department of Arts Culture and Science and Technology.
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