'African language a must for govt workers'

2011-04-07 13:07
Johannesburg - Government should consider making proficiency in an African language a requirement for those applying for jobs in the public service, the Pan SA Language Board said on Thursday.

"This can't be discrimination against our people because we have been living together, black and white, and we have to learn each other's languages," board chief executive Chris Swepu said in a statement.

He welcomed Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande's comments on making proficiency in an African language a condition for graduating from university.

"It would be ignorant for anyone to oppose Nzimande's move. For a very long time, African languages have been ignored in universities, which lacked language units, policies and budgets to implement them.

"We see it all the time; most university graduates who work in government can't speak to the public because they don't know an African language."

Condition for graduating

Swepu said introducing African languages as a prerequisite in universities would "strengthen" students at universities as well as the working class.

The initiative should also be extended to all levels of education.

Earlier this week Nzimande said a task team was looking into the feasibility of every university student learning one African language as a condition for graduating.

He said the issue of the development and teaching of African languages in universities was something he was taking up as a special ministerial project.

The advisory panel would look at how to strengthen university teaching and expansion of African languages which was in serious decline.

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