INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES IN HIGHER EDUCATION TAKES CENTRE STAGE AT VUT YOUTH DAY COMMEMORATIONS
By: Phetogo Mabuza – 20 June 2023
Prof Maake, Dr Sally Maepa and the VUT Deputy President: Sithembele Dlephu
To mark Youth Day at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT), the African Languages Development Unit (ALDU) in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation held a commemoration event on 15 June 2023.
The event was attended by VUT staff and students, as well as members of the community from in and around the Vaal. In addition to marking this important day in the South African calendar, the event was also a platform for ALDU to speak about the existing VUT Language Policy at VUT, which takes into account the role of indigenous languages in culture and education for the youth of today.
In his opening remarks, Dr Muntuwenkosi Chili, the Executive Director for the Centre for Academic Development (CAD) unpacked the future direction of VUT’s Language Policy, which he says future direction is embedded in strengthening and promoting indigenous languages as a medium of instruction and research.
Guest Speaker and a Senior Manager at the Gauteng Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), Dr Sally Maepa, touched on the language policy framework and constitutional imperative on the development of African languages in higher education. Dr Sally highlighted that, “Language is a powerful tool that shapes our identities, cultures and language systems, and the youth of 1976 understood this very well”. She further saluted the VUT for developing a language policy that intends to be inclusive of other diverse languages within the higher learning curriculum, adding that once the policy is approved, the ALDU will have the responsibility to implement it.
The keynote speaker of the event, Prof. Nhlanhla Maake who is the roving mentor at the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) gave a detailed presentation titled :“Retrospect and prospect: Language politics and transformation of education”, emphasizing liberation to the colonial mindset in terms of language use in higher education and on people in general.
It wouldn’t be a Youth Day celebration if it is not graced by entertaining performances from creative and talented young people – most of whom are VUT students.