The DA has proposed a motion on ICT in Gauteng libraries to help promote local languages.
“In an increasingly digital era, we must not lose sight of language rights, or see the rich tapestry that language provides slip away. English is the international language of business, but most countries across the globe take steps to ensure that day to day life is possible in their populations’ home languages,” Ashor Sarupen MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Finance, said in the Gauteng Legislature today.
Sarupen quoted Sections 30 and 31 of the South African Constitution which addresses language and culture.
“What this motion calls on the house to do today, is to use the opportunity to give meaning to sections 30 and 31 of the constitution, using technology to promote local language use, while also modernising ICT in libraries, and, in the process stimulate the local ICT industry,” he said.
Sarupen highlighted that language packs available on Microsoft which is used in libraries shows that it is available in languages such as Frisian, Fulah, Upper Sorbian and others and while it does provide basic Windows functions in isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sesotho, “it is rudimentary at best, and its grammar and spell checker is not sufficiently developed for serious academic and journalistic use – which is the lifeblood of how languages thrive”.
He said government needs to bring local languages to devices in a useful way.
“[Guateng[ has already committed to stimulating the local ICT industry in its strategic plans, and open sourced, locally developed software and language packs for our libraries would achieve economic objectives and promote language rights for our people…With minimal budget and some political will, we can do this quickly by government standards,” he said.
The motion is yet to be considered by members of the Assembly.