News & events


Language Rites: A symposium on language practices in South African Higher Education Institutions

15 September 2019

Dates: 15-17 September 2019
Venue: Zevenwacht Wine Estate, Cape Town

Language is critical to higher education transformation as it impacts institutional culture, access and success. In 2008, the Report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions declared that there be “substantive and sufficient multilingualism in academic and support activities” at all public universities in South Africa yet, an overwhelming majority of instruction and business is still conducted in English or Afrikaans, marginalising large groups of the black student population.

Now, ten years after this seminal policy work, this symposium assembles thinkers and experts who will grapple with the questions: what has been implemented at a language policy level so far? What is happening in practice? What are the challenges around existing languages policies? How might we begin to explain some of these problems?

Through guided policy discussions, documentary screenings, workshops, panel discussions, sharing empirical data studies, personal accounts and experience, the symposium is intended to provide an opening to put forward a feasible framework for policy recommendations, future monitoring and evaluation tools and interventions that have implications for improving resources to better meet language challenges at South African Higher Education Institutions.

The symposium specifically targets experts writing / working / practicing in the areas of translanguaging, multilingualism, linguistic ethnography, biliteracy, multiliteracy, language policy, sociolinguistics, linguistic citizenship, academic literacy, the sociology of education, educational leadership or the promotion of African languages.