Make African language 'a requirement'
Pretoria - Speaking, reading and writing an indigenous African language should be considered a prerequisite for tertiary education, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Friday.
He was disappointed at the slow progress in the "development of African languages as languages of scholarship" at the country's universities.
In a speech prepared for delivery at a meeting of the African languages advisory panel, Nzimande made suggestions on how to ensure indigenous African languages could become languages of instruction in higher education.
"We must explore the feasibility and possibility of promoting and making it a requirement that all South African students in higher education must be able to speak/read/write at least one African indigenous language."
There would also be a need to consider "the implications of this for teaching and usage of African languages in our entire education system".
Nzimande said the higher education policy on languages acknowledged South Africa's linguistic diversity.
"Contrary to the general perception, the policy recognises the retention of Afrikaans as a language of [academia]. It acknowledges the value and contribution of Afrikaans [and English]."
However, the policy was also clear that the two languages should not be "used as barrier to access for those students who are not first language speakers of these languages".
He said policies on languages needed to be reviewed.
Nzimande urged the panel to look at strengthening African language departments in universities.
It should also examine obstacles in the publishing industry to the development and usage of African languages, he said.