Civil rights organization AfriForum is currently receiving numerous complaints about the new language policy of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), which has just been brought to the attention of the Institute’s members by newsletter. In the newsletter, it is stated that the South African Constitution supports multilingualism and that it will therefore be “unfair and prejudicial” for SAICA to use only one additional language, namely Afrikaans, for examination purposes. All examinations will henceforth take place in English only.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, it is ridiculous to argue that the removal of language rights and the introduction of monolingualism actually promote multilingualism. “The Constitution clearly states that the language offer in the country needs to be expanded in order for all official languages to attain equal status in time. Nowhere does it advocate the use of a single language only, and a colonial language at that, causing indigenous official languages to gradually weaken and then die an equal death,” she added.
According to Bailey, institutions like SAICA are ignorant of language rights and try to appear politically correct by phasing out Afrikaans. In the process, they evade any obligation to help the other nine official languages to develop. They deprive the Afrikaans community of learning, employment and service-delivery opportunities and ensure that there is no chance that more indigenous languages will develop to the current status of Afrikaans.
“AfriForum continually uses the services of Afrikaans-speaking accountants. It is beneficial for us to have access to information in our own language and we would like all other South Africans to enjoy the same opportunities. If SAICA indeed is serious about the Constitution, multilingualism, human rights and service delivery, it will do everything possible to expand their examination offer to include more South African languages. Universities are making huge strides in developing South African languages and to encourage their use in all disciplines. Institutions such as SAICA should effectively support such efforts and protect the existing language offering as an asset for SAICA’s members and the public who make use of the members’ services.”
AfriForum will approach SAICA with suggestions of ways in which multilingualism can truly be promoted. Members of SAICA are also encouraged to bring their support for Afrikaans examinations to the attention of the Institute.
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