04 January 2021 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe | Photo Anja Aucamp
Dr Sekanse Ntsala

Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and Language Education at the University of Free State, Dr Sekanse Ntsala, collaborated with colleagues from eight universities across South Africa to produce instructional reading strategies for Sesotho and isiZulu students in the Faculty of Education.

The project will see Dr Ntsala partner in the production of learning material in Sesotho and IsiZulu for Foundation and Intermediate phase lecturers, academics, and students. The project is centred in the Centre for African Language Teaching at the University of Johannesburg. 

Designing African language material is a progressive move 

He said there was a gap in the learning material currently being produced, as it was all produced in English, even for African languages. 

"The dilemma is that thus far, all the material that we use for teaching has been written in English. This means that lecturers have to rely on material written in English, and in some instances, they have to translate into the relevant African language. The challenge with translation is that the final product does not always come out the same. You find that even when lecturers have to compile study guides, they still have to rely on the same material. It's a challenge that affects even students themselves, as discussions and assessments have to be done in the African language in question."

He said rather than to translate the content that has been written in English, the collaboration will result in newly created material for Sesotho and IsiZulu.

The two languages were selected as pilot languages; Dr Ntsala said the aim of the project is to expand the creation of material to other languages in order to eliminate English as the main focus in teaching.

"The main rationale is that it's only fair that we have material that will be relevant to a particular language. The manner in which it is happening now is sort of degrading to other languages," he said.

Dr Ntsala said the material would be completed by the end of 2020 and would then go through the process of getting approval from the deaneries of the approved universities, as well as from the Department of Education.

"We are trying to ensure that every language gets recognition in classrooms. Having material that is language-specific is a step in the right direction to ensure that each language is given the respect it deserves."

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