South Africa: Language policy to cost UKZN R13m

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Aug 5 16:12:35 UTC 2006

Language policy to cost UKZN R13m

By Amelia Naidoo

It will cost the University of KwaZulu-Natal R13-million to implement the
first five years of its recently finalised language plan. The institution
will begin implementing phase one of its bilingual education policy in
2008. According to Prof Robert Balfour, who chairs the university's
language policy committee, the money will cover staff, materials, training
and translation costs. In keeping with the framework for policy
development in the language in education policy (1997) and the language
policy for higher education (2002), the university recognised the need to
give isiZulu the institutional academic status of English.

The language plan revealed that an isiZulu audit would be carried out to
identify bilingual staff to ensure that the plan was workable. The College
of Humanities would be responsible for the development of isiZulu.
According to the language plan, the various disciplines would train staff
who have contact with the public and with isiZulu-speaking students.
Communication with the public - including written and telephonic
communications and public meetings - would be conducted in isiZulu and
English, according to individual preferences.

The university would produce either bilingual versions of the most widely
distributed publications or versions in both English and isiZulu. Both
languages would be treated equally in terms of format, size, quality,
legibility and prominence. The university's name, in whatever format it is
used, would appear in English and isiZulu. Stationery and related
materials, press releases, advertising and publicity, website content,
information signs and staff recruitment would all also be bilingual.

Commenting on whether the university's staff intake would increase,
Balfour said that process would only start after much research had been
done. He said staff expansion would be done very carefully and would
depend on the financial commitment of the Education Department. During
phase one of the language plan, to be implemented from 2008 to 2018, the
main language of learning and instruction would primarily be English. The
use of isiZulu as a medium of instruction would be encouraged but would be
at the discretion of the various faculties. Students and staff would
develop competence in isiZulu and English sufficient for academic
interaction in this phase. The university would facilitate all academic
disciplines to assist students and staff to develop writing skills in both

Current disciplines offered in isiZulu include Zulu as a major, Zulu
communication in mother tongue and non-mother tongue, Zulu teaching
methodology, Zulu literature, Zulu poetry and Zulu music. According to the
language plan the university would appoint language tutors to teach,
develop and co-ordinate isiZulu medium provision throughout the
university, building on what is already offered in isiZulu disciplines and
drawing on the expertise of staff. Faculties, in consultation with the
University Languages Board, would decide whether to offer modules in
isiZulu. The decision would depend on the numbers and needs of the
students and the resources.

amelia.naidoo at

This article was originally published on page 4 of The Mercury on August
04, 2006

Published on the Web by IOL on 2006-08-04 00:49:00

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