Language practitioners discussed how to develop, protect and promote all official languages.(SABC)
Promoting multilingualism in schools and universities is vital for the continued existence of languages.
This was the message from the Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi during the marking of International Mother Language Day in Port Elizabeth.
The day was proclaimed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999 to promote awareness of multilingualism and cultural diversity.
Language practitioners discussed how to develop, protect and promote all official languages.
Many fear some indigenous languages could disappear but moves are afoot to prevent this.
The Department of Arts and Culture is issuing bursaries to post graduate students in fields such as translation, interpreting and language planning.
“We need translators; we need people who will interpret, either in courts or other places. We need people who are able to teach others the languages and writing books,” explains Mabudafhasi.
The department's bursary schemes have already benefited students at 15 universities across the country. But there's still a lot of work to be done.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Department of Applied Languages Lecturer, Dr Hilda Israel says, “I do believe that there is a lot of awareness now especially after [the] fees must fall and the focus on language. It has jolted everybody in acknowledging that language is a key issue in academic success at our university.”
Four bursary beneficiaries want to give back to their communities.
They believe that it is not just the academics that must promote the use of mother languages.
The Department of Arts and Culture will also run various programs at schools to promote mother tongue languages.