Language Resources Audit at Rhodes University: Promoting Multilingualism and Resource Sharing
Rhodes University was the venue for the first-ever Language Resources Audit, organized by the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLAR) at the Continuing Education Centre. Led by Jaun Steyn, the Operations Director of SADiLAR, the audit team aimed to assess the resources and infrastructure available across the higher education sector to facilitate resource sharing and collaboration in implementing language policies.
The audit aligns with Section 29(2) of the South African Constitution, which emphasizes individuals' right to receive education in their chosen official language(s) in public educational institutions. By conducting this audit, Rhodes University and other institutions aim to ensure the
effective access to and implementation of this constitutional right.
According to Professor Dion Nkomo, the NRF SARChI Chair in Intellectualisation of African Languages, Multilingualism and Education, and Vuyo Baneti, the Equity and Institutional Culture Manager, the audit serves as a stock-taking exercise to determine the resources and infrastructure available for developing language resources needed to implement language policies within higher education institutions. This initiative has been approved by the Universities South Africa (USAf) Board, comprising the vice-chancellors of the 26 public universities.
Professor Nkomo emphasized that the audit's objective is not only to assess existing resources but also to help institutions develop additional
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to support their language policies effectively. Professor Sizwe Mabizela, the Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University, underscored the importance of the language policy and its effective execution. He underscored the importance of preserving language as it is intricately linked to identity.
Professor Nkomo acknowledged Rhodes University's milestones in implementing its language policy, particularly its transition from a historically monolingual institution to one that embraces multilingualism, including isiXhosa. However, he cautioned against complacency and stressed the need for a robust monitoring and evaluation process to ensure policy implementation.
To actively engage students in the process, a survey was conducted where students expressed their concerns, opinions, and
suggestions regarding the implementation of the language policy. Students advocated for improved access to internet sources in the official languages embraced by the institution and called for increased publicity of the language policy and implementation plan on the official website as an accountability mechanism. They also acknowledged the progress made in implementing the policy thus far.
The Language Resources Audit at Rhodes University signifies a significant step towards promoting linguistic diversity, collaboration, and resource sharing in higher education institutions. By assessing and addressing language resource needs, institutions can effectively implement language policies, ultimately supporting multilingualism and nurturing cultural identities within the academic community.