A new language policy framework has been published for higher education institutions in South Africa, which aims to develop and strengthen indigenous languages as ones of “scholarship, teaching, learning and communication”. The framework was published by the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande.
“The policy provides guidelines for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of institutional language policies and contributes to transformation in higher education with specific reference to universities through enhancing the status and roles of previously marginalised South African languages to foster institutional inclusivity as well as social cohesion,” he said.
According to the framework, language continues to be a barrier that many students at South Africa’s tertiary institutions still struggle with. Despite their status as official languages, indigenous languages have not been afforded 0fficial space to function as academic and scientific languages at universities in the country.
The Department of Higher Education and Training believes that the “persistent underdevelopment and undervaluing of indigenous languages should not be allowed if universities are to meet the diverse linguistic needs of their student population”.
The framework requires universities to demonstrate their language plans, as well as the investments they have made or will make to the development of official languages into the language of education, scholarship and research.
“Continuous research must be undertaken by the institutions, to explore and document strategies for intellectualising indigenous languages for use in higher education,” the Department said.
The published framework can be read here.