Library books as environmental management capacity building opportunities exclude most South African languages

Fortunate Phaka*, M. P. M. Vanhove, Louis Du Preez, J.J.A. Hugé

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Social inclusion in South Africa’s environmental management remains a concern regardless of equality being enshrined in the country’s environmental management policy. This policy makes provisions for citizens to be afforded equal opportunities to learn about the environment and develop capacity to participate in environmental management. As South Africa is a multilingual country where most of the population does not use English as their primary language, environmental capacity development opportunities should ideally be linguistically accessible to all citizens to avoid perpetuating the pre-democratic exclusion of the languages spoken by most of the population of African descent. Given that public libraries play a role in promoting democracy, the books they catalogue are assumed to provide environmental management capacity development opportunities. Here we use the language of publication of public library books as an indicator for assessing the role of native South African languages in promoting environmental management opportunities. The books from South African public libraries considered in this study’s sample were found to provide environmental management capacity development opportunities in mostly English. Dominance of English in these capacity development opportunities excludes many citizens as most South Africans do not use English as their primary language. This study argues that such exclusion is at odds with South Africa’s inclusive environmental management policy and decreasing exclusion will require actions that support policy by encouraging publishing in Indigenous languages and elevating the status of marginalised languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Volume141
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • environmental justice
  • environmental management
  • post-Apartheid
  • public libraries
  • public participation
  • Public participation
  • Post-apartheid environmental management
  • Public libraries
  • Social exclusion
  • Environmental justice

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