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National language and book policies

This page provides links to language and book policies in developing countries, and research on the impact of national book policies for content creators and publishers.

National Report 2012: The State of Literacy Teaching and Learning in the Foundation Phase

No one would dispute that South African schools are performing below expectations. Diagnosis of the reasons for the inefficiency of South African schools, compared with more poorly resourced systems in the Southern and Eastern African subcontinent, is the first step to improving the quality of learning outcomes.

The Incremental Introduction of African Languages in South African Schools Draft Policy

In 2017, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said that 27% of public schools nationally are implementing the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) in Grades 1 and 2 in 2017 despite challenges, which included an inadequate number of willing and competent teachers as well as negative attitudes and misconceptions about African languages being inferior in the global scheme. The target is to reach 3 558 public schools across all grades by 2029.


Language in Education Policy (South Africa)

The Language in Education Policy is based on recognition of cultural diversity and the promotion of multilingualism. This policy support the additive multilingualism approach. The Language in Education Policy specifically recognizes diversity beyond language, by supporting languages used for religious purposes, and South African Sign Language.

Language in schools – Basic Education Rights Handbook (South Africa)

Section 29(2) of the Constitution provides that every learner has the right to receive a basic education in the language of his or her choice, where this is reasonably practicable. This right is an important recognition of equality and diversity, and the need to depart from a history in which education – and language in education, in particular – was used as a vehicle to implement and strengthen apartheid. Through this right, learners’ diversity and individuality is recognised, and this can facilitate the important objective of unlocking their potential.

Where Have All the Textbooks Gone?

Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa - a report by Tony Read for the World Bank.

Education White Paper on Early Childhood Education (South Africa)

The South African Department of Education prioritised (Early Childhood Development ECD) through the development and implementation of the White Paper 5 on Early Childhood Development (2001). The policy's aim is to phase in Grade R as part of the schooling system. 

National Language Policy Framework (South Africa)

Approximately 25 different languages are spoken in South Africa, of which 11 have been granted official status in terms of section 6 of the Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996), on the grounds that their usage includes about 98% of the total population. The 11 official languages are isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu and siSwati (referred to as the Nguni language group); Sesotho, Sepedi and Setswana (referred to as the Sotho language group); Tshivenda, Xitsonga, English and Afrikaans. South Africa is therefore a multilingual country. A striking characteristic of multilingualism in South Africa is the fact that several indigenous languages are spoken across provincial borders; shared by speech communities from different provinces. There is currently a strong awareness of the need to intensify efforts to develop the previously marginalised indigenous languages and to promote multilingualism if South Africans are to be liberated from undue reliance on the use of non-indigenous languages as the dominant, official languages of the state. Management of linguistic diversity in post-apartheid South Africa has been made problematic by the lack of a clearly defined language policy, leading to the use of English and Afrikaans as the most dominant languages in the socio-economic and political domains of its society. The Policy Framework not only initiates a fresh approach to multilingualism in South Africa, but strongly encourages the use of the indigenous languages as official languages in order to foster and promote national unity. It takes into account the broad acceptance of linguistic diversity, social justice, the principle of equal access to public services and programmes, and respect for language rights.