Government continues support for African languages

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Government continues to fund students wishing to further their studies using African languages, says Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

The Minister said this while participating in a debate on Freedom Day during a plenary of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“Every year, we fund and support financially, students for African languages, anything between 120 to 400 per annum in all universities which we have in our country,” said the Minister.

When the liberation struggle regained momentum, apartheid police executed many young people in what was to become known as the Soweto Uprising.

At the heart of the uprising, which started on 16 June 1976 through a mass march of nearly 10 000 students in Soweto, was the apartheid regime’s decision to make Afrikaans, alongside English, as a compulsory medium of instruction in schools, policies that were aimed at further suppressing black learners from being taught in their mother tongue.

These policies could be traced all the way back to the introduction of the Bantu Education Act in 1963.

“Part of the apartheid project was to ensure that African languages have no currency and as they were excluded for use in the corporate environment as well as in academia, it is encouraging that we are beginning to see students completing Masters and PhD dissertations across a variety of academic fields using African languages,” he said.

Mthethwa said while this was an indication of progress, more still needs to be done.

“We are the first ones to say that there is a lot that still needs to be done. Government is doing its best but the challenges of our country are still facing us.

“We understand very well that the road to social progress is always under construction and we are part of constructing that road to social progress,” he said.

Today, a lot of progress has been made from those dark days of apartheid – the black child has a Freedom to take up and use their African language of choice in both academia and in corporate South Africa. –

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