PRESS RELEASE: SAPTU pushes for technology as solution to tertiary education language debate

SAPTU (South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union) wants to see tertiary institutions solve the controversy surrounding multilingualism by developing and embracing technology to give each of South Africa’s eleven national languages its fair share in education.

Language in the South African context is a delicate subject, and the slightest inkling of one language being suppressed causes controversy. A residence meeting at the University of Stellenbosch recently stirred up the tertiary language debate once again.

“We want to see South Africa’s tertiary institutions at the forefront of technological invention and what better field than language to start a revolution?” says Adv Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU. “South Africans developed the CAT Scan, Kreepy Krauley, Pratley’s Putty and Q20 and did the very first heart transplant. Why can we not create a system to accommodate and develop all languages at the tertiary level?”

Language is a right under the South African constitution, and none of the eleven national languages should be suppressed in any way. Many studies have shown that languages benefit from development at the academic level. Universities should be innovative about protecting and developing all of South Africa’s national languages.

“Parliament has been using a translation system for years, so why must it be a challenge for tertiary institutions to accommodate different languages?” asks Adv Van der Walt. “The modern technology to accommodate multilingualism exists, and we want to see how universities use creative solutions in terms of language policies.

“We will also reach out to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on this issue. SAPTU believes in equality, dignity and prosperity for our members, each employee in the country and the future workforce of South Africa.”

SAPTU launched a petition where South Africans can show their support and even suggest solutions to multilingual challenges at the tertiary level. Follow this link:

Issued by: SAPTU
Date: 16 April 2021
Enquiries: Adv Ben van der Walt, General Secretary SAPTU Cell.: 083 260 8548