PanSALB seconds call to revive African languages

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pretoria - The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has welcomed the move by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to revive African languages at universities, and make proficiency in an African language a condition for graduation.

PanSALB acting CEO Chris Swepu said it would be ignorant for anyone to oppose Nzimande's move, as PanSALB believes that the initiative would not only benefit students academically but improve communication with the general public.

"For a very long time, African languages have been ignored in universities, which lacked language units, policies and budgets to implement them," Swepu said on Thursday.

Speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the teacher education and development plan for the next 15 years, Nzimande said every university student in South Africa could be required to learn one African language as a condition for graduating. 

Swepu also challenged government to consider making it a requirement for job applicants in the public service to know one African language in order to be employed.

"This can't be discrimination against our people because we have been living together black and white and we have to learn each other's languages. We see it all the time: most university graduates who work in government can't speak to the public because they don't know an African language.

"This initiative will work hand in hand with the introduction of indigenous language policies already in place in some South African universities and will strengthen not only students in higher learning institutions but also the working class in various work environments," he said.

Swepu further pointed out that such initiative must be extended to all layers of education and not just higher education. 

"In that way, we will have the necessary synergy for this to succeed," he said.

Swepu recommitted the PanSALB board to continue encouraging such initiatives in government and non-governmental institutions, to ensure that multilingualism is implemented in practice in order for South Africa to become truly non-racial, with no discrimination based on language. - BuaNews