South African Sign Language to be given official status


On Thursday 27 July, the Constitutional Review Committee of Parliament recommended that Sign Language should be the 12th official language of South Africa. The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) say that they would like to acknowledge this positive step taken “to finally recommend that the South African Sign Language (SASL) be given an official status.” PanSALB say that this is significant not only for the deaf community, but for those who wish to study Sign Language.

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South Africa’s failing education system


In January, London-based publication, The Economist, published a report saying, “South Africa has one of the world’s worst education systems”. South Africa’s education system has been in a dire state; with a lack of both quality education and educators, as well as corruption, South Africa is at the bottom end of various international lists of education standards. According to The Economist’s report, South Africa ranks 75 out of 76 countries evaluated in a table of education systems drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2015. The table included countries such as Canada, Singapore, Estonia, Peru and Tunisia. The publication also reported that South Africa ranked at or near the bottom of various lists in a study conducted by Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

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Trans soldiers protected by SA constitution


On 27 July President Trump announced that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the US military. If the ban were to become official, the United States would fall out of the small circle of countries that allows transgender individuals to serve. To date, countries such as Canada, Australia, Israel, Thailand (in administrative positions) and South Africa protect full LGBTQIA+ rights in the military.

Col Kirstein of the South African Defence Force (SANDF) says that the Defence Force “is subservient to the Constitution of South Africa and therefore does not discriminate against people in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, cultural, language, [and] sexual orientation”. This is further entrenched in the Defence Act of 2002 which says that any member of the Defence Force or employee of the Department who discriminates against a person based on their sexual orientation is guilty of an offence and could, if found guilty, be imprisoned for a maximum of five years.

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South Africas first clinical cannabis convention


On 5 August, registered nonprofit organisation Fields of Green for All held South Africa’s first Clinical Cannabis Convention. The hope was to de-stigmatise the use of cannabis and educate medical professionals whose patients may already be using the plant. This conference built on the momentum gained by the ongoing case, dubbed the ‘Trial of the Plant’, that is fighting to re-legalise cannabis in South Africa. Many of the speakers at the event are also expert witnesses in the trial.

In 1993 The South African Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act No.140 listed cannabis under “Undesirable Dependence- Producing Substances” and made any part of the plant illegal. Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, known as ‘The Dagga Couple’ have taken seven government ministers to the Pretoria High Court in an effort to disprove that cannabis is an ‘undesirable’ substance. They have divided their arguments into four platforms: responsible adult use of cannabis; use of cannabis for health; use of cannabis in industry; and traditional, religious and cultural uses of cannabis.

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Gone-orrhoea? A new vaccine for gonorrhoea


A vaccine for gonorrhoea, which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), may be accessible in the near-future. Vaccines are responsible for prevention and sometimes even eradication of infectious diseases. On 10 July, an academic journal, The Lancet, released a paper which indicates that a vaccine for gonorrhoea may be a future possibility.

Professor Remco Peters, a medical microbiologist at the University of Pretoria, a clinical programme specialist at Anova Health Institute and an expert in the field of STIs, explains th at vaccines work by “giving [someone] a little bit of the bacteria or virus that you are trying to protect [against]”. This bacteria or virus can either be “a small attenuated piece” or “a synthetically derived component”. This helps the body build an immune response as the disease becomes recognisable.

Read more: Gone-orrhoea? A new vaccine for gonorrhoea

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