Language Rights in South Africa

The South African Bill of Rights, enacted in 1996, provides very broad protections for human rights as part of the constitution, including strong protections for language and culture. Here are some excerpts:

  • “Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice” (29.2)
  • “Everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice” (30)


Naturally, the Bill of Rights is available on the web it in the other 10 official languages:

From 2001 Census reports, fewer than 1% of South Africans speak a native language that is not one of the 11 official languages ( via wikipedia). Visiting South Africa, I have enjoyed the rich diversity of language and culture. Of South Africa’s 11 official languages, I speak only English, but I’ve overheard many conversations in a great variety of languages and I’ve noticed that most South Africans speak at least two languages and many speak 5 or 7.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *