Blade revives African languages

HIGHER Education Minister Blade Nzimande wants to force university students to study at least one African language as a condition to graduate.

Nzimande said the issue of the development of African languages at universities "is something that I am taking up as a special ministerial project and also to look at how to strengthen the teaching and expansion of African languages in our universities".

Nzimande said this during the launch of the New Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education in Pretoria yesterday.

"One of the things we are looking into as part of the task I have given to an advisory panel, is to what extent we should consider for instance that every university student in South Africa must learn at least one African language as a condition for graduation," Nzimande said.

Pan South African Language Board acting chief executive Chris Swepu said: "We have always had a problem with most universities closing down African studies departments.

"We welcome the move by the minister. White people have been in the country for more than 300 years but they are still not willing to learn our languages. The government must make it policy that if you want a government job you have to know an African language."

The minister said the teacher education plan had identified the availability of qualified and capable African language foundation phase teachers as being problematic.

He said this had severe implications for the development of early numeracy and literacy, adding that African language learners in poor, rural contexts were most affected.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the new education plan will pay more attention to schools that have performed below 60percent in the matric exams.

Though he commended the department for the plan, Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke emphasised that priority must be to accelerate the implementation.

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