Universities should consider making the study of an African language other than Afrikaans compulsory for certain courses, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Thursday.
In some universities, African language departments had become weaker over the years, and strengthening them should be a “central strategy”, he said in a speech at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. “I’d like to suggest that universities and professional bodies such as those representing teachers, doctors and lawyers consider making some study (perhaps for a year) of an official African language other than English and Afrikaans compulsory in order to obtain a qualification,” he said.
“This would not be a first for this country; it was used successfully in the past to promote Afrikaans among non-Afrikaans speakers.” This would be beneficial to all students, help strengthen African language departments, and raise the status of African languages, the minister said.
Nzimande, who was speaking at a summit on transformation in higher education, said an issue that had concerned the sector for over a decade was the rising average age of academics and the need to sustain the academic profession.
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