Interpreting Language Rights in South Africa for Open Education

Open education provides opportunities for the inclusion of different languages in the
education context. This conceptual article approaches the concept of language rights from
a sociology of language perspective where language rights can be dealt with as group or
collective rights. However, in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
(1996), language rights are considered individual rights. Language rights are associated
with human rights; therefore, in this article, the human rights culture in South Africa is of
importance. In the Constitution, there has been a historical shift from the recognition of
two official languages towards the recognition of 11 official languages. The Constitution
provides a regulatory framework within which language rights can be interpreted. The
approach to language rights in the context of sociology of language and the relationship
between language rights and minority and cultural rights provide a background for
language rights as group rights. In this article, it is argued that language rights are
exercised as individual rights in particular language communities which has implication of
open education and open pedagogy.

  • Jako Olivier

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