South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) – the South African public service broadcaster – and the BBC Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) have signed an agreement to see the two organisations working together to preserve African languages. This occurred during the celebration to commemorate World International Mother Language Day.
The signing of the memorandum of agreement between PANSALB and SABC comes ahead of the SABC’s official launch of a 24-hour news channel, which will broadcast in all official African languages.
If you recall, the International Mother Language Day was first announced by UNESCO in November 1999. The United Nations General Assembly formally recognised it by adopting the UN resolution in 2002. This year’s commemoration occurs under the theme “multilingual education – a necessity to transform Education”.
SABC Group Executive for News and Current Affairs, Moshoeshoe Monare, says the public broadcaster must preserve indigenous languages.
“As a public broadcaster, SABC has a mandate and obligation to promote, preserve, and protect indigenous languages; we do this through ensuring that all our programming, be it in news, sports, and entertainment, is multilingual and is within in this context that our collaboration with PANSALB is long overdue.”
The CEO of the language board, Lance Schultz, says their partnership with the SABC will create a platform for language development and foster multilingualism.
The Chairperson of Pansalb, Professor Makhubu Bardenhost, adds that people must communicate in their mother language at home.
“It’s essential that people, when we take the news, whether it’s education or anything, or we communicate with anybody at home, whether they are cooking in their own home and so on, we use the person’s language. So today marks that significance, and today we witnessed the signing of the MOU between the Pan South African language board and the SABC. In the promotion of our languages.”
The SABC says the agreement with the language board is positioning it as the only broadcaster committed to preserving African languages and sets the SABC apart. This will also provide SABC with an advantage over its competitors.