Multilingual Education in the SADC Region

2001 - 2003

Project for the Study of Alternative
Education in South Africa
Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Room 18, Arts Block, Upper Campus
Tel: (021) 650-4013/3589
Fax: (021) 650-3027

Multilingual Education in the SADC Region facilitated by PRAESA via the Department of Education, University of Cape Town.

1. Rationale

Home languages ('mother tongues') have to be accorded far greater prominence than hitherto in high-status domains such as education if the latter is to serve the ideals of individual empowerment and economic development in Southern Africa. In the light of the continued dominance of the former colonial languages in public schooling on the continent of Africa, particularly in the countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and the simultaneous exclusion of the majority of people from access to and success within schooling on account, among other things, of a lack of proficiency in these languages, it is imperative that education systems be re-oriented towards an approach based on theory and practice of additive bilingualism and multilingualism.

The promotion of indigenous languages alongside the former colonial languages in education has the in-principle support of all governments and progressive educators in the region. In practice such a move will require, above all, the re-training of teachers and their trainers if rhetorical commitments are to be realised. This is the starting point for the proposed Post-Graduate Diploma/Masters in Multilingual Education, which aims to equip teacher trainers on the African continent, mainly but not exclusively in SADC countries (including South Africa) with the knowledge and skills to function effectively in promoting multilingual and mother-tongue education in their respective schooling contexts.

2. Objectives

  • to train trainers of educators to understand the planning, management, pedagogical and socio-economic implications of education in a multilingual society;
  • to share scarce human resources in the area of bilingual education and specifically to identify and consolidate centres of specialisation in the various sub-regions, which can help to train the core personnel for the education departments of all the SADC member states and beyond;
  • to rehabilitate mother-tongue (i.e., L1-medium) education across the African continent on the basis and within the paradigm of additive bilingualism;
  • to promote the terminological elaboration of the indigenous languages in such a manner that they can be used as languages of tuition at all levels of education;
  • to help to establish a culture of reading in the African languages across the continent by, among other things, attending to early literacy, family and community literacy practices and by promoting the production of appropriate education as well as leisure materials.

3. Constituency

The proposed Programme is aimed at teacher-trainers and education management and staff development personnel on the African continent, mainly but by no means exclusively in the SADC countries. The constituency accordingly comprises government education officials such as subject advisers, language support staff, district officials, school principals, and includes university and college lecturers, and teacher trainers in non-governmental organisations. It is anticipated that each course will be able to accommodate 20-25 candidates, half of whom will be local educators and half of whom will come from other African countries.

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