Languages Bursaries for Students at UNIZULU

The national Department of Arts and Culture is in the process of offering bursaries in Language Studies to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zululand.

Therefore, for the University to be selected ahead of the 6 other universities is a commendable progressive step. The bursary was initially rolled out in 2012-2014 and it was a smooth process and the previous bursary conditions were honoured. Other Public Universities who are current awardees for the Bursary are UWC, UNIVEN, Mandela University, Wits and UNIZULU. The proposed second phase at UNIZULU is earmarked to start in 2018-2021 with a financial injection in excess of R3 million.

This initiative has been conceived as a result of the lack of skills in the identified area of language which needs attention for the development of previously marginalised languages. The specific objective of the bursary award is that the successful applicants should acquire skills in any three of the following areas of study: Translation and Editing; Interpreting; Lexicography; Terminology Development and Management; Language Planning; Human Language Technologies; any of the South African official languages with emphasis on indigenous languages and South African Sign Language (SASL).  The Department of Arts and Culture grants financial support to the Beneficiary in executing undergraduate and postgraduate up to Masters in language studies.

Prof Songca, DVC: Teaching & Learning, gave a reflective on the importance of language importance as a medium of instruction, communication and business tool. The myth around African languages is that it does not have economic value therefore there is an active need to demystify this stereotype through ongoing educational and awareness programmes.

The renewed MOA is a draft and the Department of Arts and Culture is on a roadshow to unpack the imperatives of the MOA and once that is done, contracting will happen. Therefore, the involvement of various stakeholders from the Faculty, Legal and Head of Department for Linguistics is important in order to consolidate inputs.

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni from DAC said, “As part of advancing languages, the government is on a robust drive since 2012 when it passed the use of Language Act, the act mandated that all government departments, parastatals and entities must have a language policy in place. Preceding that in 2004 the department introduced the Bursary scheme as a method of training and upskilling students in languages in order to show the importance stance and commitment in the advancement of languages”.

He congratulated the University Department for applying for this funding especially as it is not guaranteed. The bursary is highly competitive and is contested by various universities countrywide. The other benefit for this bursary he mentioned is that it is not restrictive therefore NSFAS and other funded students can be funded and benefit from this pool.

Dr Mncwango who is the Acting Head of General Linguistics Department reiterated the importance of devices and proper provisioning for such gadgets as an imperative. It will be ideal to include this component in the MOA especially as certain books comes as e-books therefore a need for an appropriate gadget to support this is important.

The Bursary sponsor will engage with students on the 21st & 22nd February 2018 which is earmarked as the mother tongues day in-order to talk and showcase job opportunities available in the languages field. This is part of the mentorship and incubation process which is aimed at developing well refined and rounded graduates.

The Faculty of Arts takes pride in the mother tongue advancement, we need to decolonise the minds of all university stakeholders and bring about diversity benefits that language can bring.  The use of language can produce job creation opportunities rather than seeking active employment. The mother tongue day will be stretched and maximised as an all-inclusive university event concluded Prof Kamwendo, Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

– Gcina Nhleko

Pictured (top row from left): UNIZULU Chief Financial Officer, Zenzele Mzimela; UNIZULU Department of General Linguistics HoD, Dr Mthembeni Mncwango; Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Chief Director: National Language Service in the Department of Arts and Culture; Professor Sandile Songca, DVC: Teaching and Learning at UNIZULU; Zanele Mtshweni, Deputy Director: Language Planning and Development in the Department of Arts and Culture and Dokela Maleke from the Financial Aid Bureau at UNIZULU. Pictured on the bottom row from left is Professor Gregory Kwamwendo, Dean: Faculty of Arts at UNIZULU; Nokuthula Mbokazi, Bursary Administrator at UNIZULU and Sipho Manganyi, Acting Director: Language Planning and Development in the Department of Arts and Culture.