Bid to promote Khoi, San languages

CRL Rights Commission's chairperson Professor David Mosoma during the hearings held in Johannesburg yesterday.
CRL Rights Commission's chairperson Professor David Mosoma during the hearings held in Johannesburg yesterday.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

The department of higher education and training came under fire for not having language policies on the second day of hearings on the overuse of the English language.

Yesterday, the department made their presentations on language policies before the commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities (CRL Rights Commission) in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

The hearings are conducted in line with the constitution of the country which sets framework for the liberation and restoration of SA's indigenous languages in its injunction for equal use of the officially recognised languages.

Mahlubi Mabizela, chief director responsible for university policy, said the department was reviewing the language policy for higher education.

"The revised language policy has to make sure that all universities must develop strategies, policies and implementation plans for promoting multi-lingualism as defined by this policy. Such plans must indicate at least two official languages other than the languages of teaching and learning for development for scholarly discourse and communication," Mabizela said.

He added that universities must study and develop official SA languages, especially those which were historically marginalised including Khoi, Nama and San languages.

Mabizela said the department will monitor the implementation of language plan and strategies of universities.

Mabizela said the target date for the finalisation of the policy is March 31.

He also added that colleges did not have their own language policies and they relied on the department's language policy which was developed as a result of the use of Official Languages Act of 2012.

The commission's chairperson, Professor David Mosoma, said their interest as a commission was to be able to give comfort in informing the public that "we are heading in the right direction when it comes to the language usage".

"This means that the language policies of the department are still a work in progress. The implementation of the imperative of constitution is yet to be made. This is a concern as we have great expectations that the department as important as this one should have tried to facilitate transformation. When institutions lack urgency they betray the course of the nation."

Basic education deputy director general of curriculum, policy, support and monitoring Dr Mamiki Maboya said public schools did not have enough learning and teaching support materials in African languages.

"The department has initiated a process to incrementally introduce African languages as languages of learning and teaching post foundation. In partnership with Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund), the department is developing a concept paper on mother tongue-based multilingual education," she said.

Maboya also mentioned that the department planned to introduce Nama languages at schools as one of the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) strategy between 2020 and 2024.

"The department aims to promote and strengthen the use of African languages by all learners in the school system by introducing learners incrementally to learning a previously marginalised African language from grade 1 to 12 to ensure all non-African home language speakers speak an African language," Maboya said.

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