[lg policy] South Africa: SASCO commends UKZN for making isiZulu compulsory

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 20 14:20:01 UTC 2013

 SASCO commends UKZN for making isiZulu compulsory
Ngoako Selamolela - Themba Masondo
 19 May 2013

 Organisation says university has made the language a compulsory course for
all first year students

*SASCO commends UKZN on making IsiZulu compulsory *

17 May 2013

The South African Students Congress (SASCO) commends the University of
KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) on amending their language policy to make isiZulu a
compulsory course for all first year students at UKZN from next year
onwards regardless of the degree they are enrolled for. We believe that in
a country where multilingualism is enshrined in the constitution, this is a
great initiative undertaken by the University towards implementing
multilingualism in the post-schooling sector and the intellectualisation of
indigenous African languages.

As it stands, IsiZulu is the most spoken language in South Africa with a
little over 23% of the population having IsiZulu as a home language,
followed by IsiXhosa at 17. %, which is followed by Afrikaans at 13.%.
English, although used as the medium of instruction at institutions of
higher education and further training, is only used by little over 8% of
the total population as a home language. This means that in order for any
individual to be able to function in the South African linguistic context,
they must have basic communication skills in at least one African language.

We applaud the efforts of the Ministry of Higher Education and Training in
advocating for the promotion of African Languages in institutions of higher
learning and further training. We note the remarks of Dr. Blade Nzimande,
the Minister of Higher Education and Training, that "the development of
African languages is not just nice to have but is a necessity for human
rights and dignity as well as for access to university and tertiary
success". We agree with the Minister Nzimande that tertiary students should
at least have learnt one African language before they complete their

In a multilingual society such as ours, there is a need for proper and
intensive language planning so that all languages are accommodated and no
language is prejudiced or marginalized. African languages should be used as
languages of teaching and learning in our institutions of higher education.
Although the Language policy on Higher Education (2002) requires South
African universities to implement multilingualism in their teaching and
learning programmes, language policies from different institution of higher
learning shows no commitment to such. Language policies of various
institutions emphasise multilingualism but there little practical
commitment to implement such policies.

We therefore call on the Department of Higher Education and Training to put
in place stringent measures for the monitoring and evaluation of the
language policies of institutions of higher learning. We call also upon
other institutions of higher learning to follow the example set by the UKZN
and implement policies towards the compulsory teaching and learning of
indigenous African languages across the board and for specific courses as
is done at the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, University of
Stellenbosch, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State etc for
students enrolled for medicine/pharmacy and other courses.

Multilingualism in higher education can only be achieved through the
willingness of institutions of higher learning and students to make African
Languages part of the post-school educational experience. Multilingual
programmes such as the one initiated by UKZN, while progressive, they are
just a drop in an ocean. We believe that mother tongue education should be
offered as a linguistic right to anyone who wants to learn in any official
language; however this can only happen if the project of mother tongue
education is taken up at the primary and secondary schooling levels.
*Statement issued by Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President, and Themba
Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, May 17 2013

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