Stellenbosch University (SU) will host an online language colloquium for public universities this week. The Colloquium on the New Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions takes place from 28-29 September 2021 under the auspices of Universities South Africa (USAf) and is a joint project with USAf's Community of Practice for the Teaching and Learning of African Languages (CoPAL) and SU.
Speakers include Justice Albie Sachs, retired Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, and vice-chancellors of, amongst others, the Universities of Stellenbosch, Cape Town and the Free State as well as Rhodes University.
It is the first in a series of events to be hosted by universities on the New Language Policy for Higher Education, which was gazetted in October 2020. Vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors will gather with experts and other stakeholders to contemplate ways to implement the policy.
According to USAf, the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions “has brought the language question sharply to the fore. Higher education institutions have developed university language policies, but there is a significant need for key stakeholders in the sector to deepen their understanding of the Language Policy Framework and the implementation thereof".
Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Rhodes University and the Chairperson of USAf's Teaching and Learning Strategy Group, said: “We must take the language policy from the periphery that it occupies within our institutions and place it at the centre of vice-chancellors' strategic outlook. This is central to acknowledging the diversity of our students on our institutions. We also need to instil a sense of pride in our own languages and convey a message to our children, of the importance of English, but lift all other languages to the same level as important media of communication for our thoughts and ideas. Our people must enjoy seeing their languages being respected. Language also builds a nation."
Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector of SU, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with other universities. “We are looking forward to participating in this important conversation, and to gaining insights from colleagues and experts from other institutions. At SU we are aware of the challenges and opportunities surrounding the implementation of a language policy, how it aligns itself with the Language Policy for Higher Education, and the fierce debate it creates. And we welcome this debate. Collaboration is key. Our honest conversations can lead to solutions. Through actions like these we can come to a deeper understanding of the value of multilingualism," he said.
SU's Language Policy advances multilingualism, considering “the diversity of our society and the intellectual wealth inherent in that diversity".
Topics at the colloquium include Framing the New Language Policy for Higher Education within the South African Constitution; The role of language in transforming the higher education institutions; The New Language Policy Framework as responsive to the imperatives of student access and student success; The challenges in the implementation of the New Language Policy for Higher Education; The opportunities presented by the New Language Policy Framework in reimaging the idea of a university in Africa; and Transforming the academy using African languages as enablers.
In celebration of the opportunities and possibilities that multilingualism hold, the Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement at SU is once again hosting its Language Day, on 30 September, for staff and students.
The theme this year is 'Language, learning, life! Implementing multilingualism @SU in academic and social spaces. Language Day is not about the Language Policy itself, but focuses on how language is approached at SU.
The two sub-themes highlighted this year are Multilingualism in (augmented remote) learning, teaching and assessment; and, Multilingualism in administrative, social and living spaces.
“We will discuss ways to integrate a multilingual mindset in teaching, learning and assessment as well as in social life outside the classroom. The two panel discussions with subsequent breakaway group discussions will give SU staff and students the opportunity to make their voices heard, share best practice and try to find solutions to challenges together," explains Dr Antoinette van der Merwe, Senior Director: Learning and Teaching Enhancement.
“We believe that multilingualism is about more than just being able to use multiple languages. It is about giving people a voice, regardless of the language(s) they use.
- Click here for a video about Language Day