UKZN Earns Two Pan SA Language Board AwardsGeneral

Dr Langa Khumalo receiving the award from Dr Rakwena Mpho Monareng, CEO Pan SA Language Board.Dr Langa Khumalo receiving the award from Dr Rakwena Mpho Monareng, CEO Pan SA Language Board.

UKZN has received two awards from the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB).

One was in the Education Category while the other was for the book Imhlamvu Yelanga, which won in the PanSALB Language and Literature Category.

The awards were in recognition of the work UKZN has done in the promotion and development of official languages, in particular isiZulu. The book is a product of the University Language Board (ULB) literature competition that is an annual event hosted by the University Language Planning and Development Office.

Director: University Language Planning and Development Office, Dr Langa Khumalo received the awards on behalf of UKZN. On reflection of the award he said that UKZN has a clear language programme that seeks to intellectualise isiZulu so that it becomes a language of teaching and learning, research, innovation, science and technology. “This is particularly important in light of the Department of Science and Technology’s recently unveiled roadmap for South Africa’s research infrastructure, which has seen the establishment of a South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) to which I was recently appointed as a member of its Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC),” said Khumalo.

The language policy is a product of the Constitution, which impels government to develop previously disadvantaged indigenous official languages. It is also complements the Use of Official Languages Act of 2012, which allows for the development of all official languages so that they can be used equally in all spheres of life.

The two PanSALB Awards mean that UKZN is making progress in the implementation of both the constitutional imperative and the satisfaction of a statutory requirement.

UKZN has been doing extensive work in the advancement of isiZulu, which culminated in the momentous launch in November 2016 of the books Inhlamvu Yelanga and a bilingual (English-IsiZulu) glossary of architecture with illustrations, both published by UKZN Press, and the launch of isiZulu Human Language Technologies (HLTs).

The HLTs include an isiZulu spell checker, an isiZulu Lexicon (iPhone and Android Compatible), an isiZulu National Corpus (INC) and an isiZulu Term Bank. These technologies are all open source.

‘While the PanSALB Awards affirm and recognise the progress made in the intellectualisation of isiZulu at UKZN, it is also poses a challenge to the Institution to do even better in the progress towards not only developing isiZulu but other official languages as well,’ said Khumalo.

‘We have set the bar really high for ourselves, but with the #FeesMustFall movement and the decolonisation discourse having put the issue of language at the centre of the debate, we are challenged to show more innovation in advancing African languages as enablers in teaching and learning, research, technology and science.

‘The award is in recognition of our achievements since UKZN introduced isiZulu as a compulsory module. That decision generated considerable media coverage and academic discourse. It is through this robust coverage in both media and scholarly platforms that I believe the University was selected. These two Awards are a celebration of what UKZN has achieved,’ he said.

‘Transformation and decolonisation are two (new) national imperatives currently being debated in Higher Education. Language is, in my view, at the centre of both and I think we have our work cut out for us.’

Indu Moodley