Consultation is key in revision of NWU’s language policy
The five-yearly revision of the North-West University's (NWU's) Language Policy and Plan (LPP) is taking place presently and includes an intensive consultation process with various structures and stakeholders. All policies of the NWU are in the process of being reviewed following the adoption of a new strategy, structure and statute.
The project team welcomes all stakeholder inputs and invites participation by members of the university community in the ongoing process of consultation.
A variety of stakeholders, including faculty boards, the Convocation, the Senate, academics, support services, student representatives and the Institutional Forum, have been or will be invited to give feedback and provide input. An electronic language survey is presently being conducted to solicit inputs from staff and students. The Senate of the NWU, as the academic governance body, will have the opportunity to provide input into the policy and plan, before it is presented to the NWU Council in June 2018 for consideration.
The LPP task team received its brief from the university management and Senate in October 2016 and has been driving the process subsequently. A first draft of the policy was discussed at an extraordinary Senate meeting in June 2017.
The current language policy is a functionally multilingual policy, which means that it can be adapted in a flexible manner as needed in a variety of situations. An example of this flexibility is the use of parallel-medium classes on our Potchefstroom and Vaal Triangle campuses. Another is the practice of simultaneously interpreting classes either from or into Setswana, English and Afrikaans.
It is clear that the NWU will not end up with a language policy or plan that provides mono-lingual language provision since both the NWU statute and national language policy for higher education demand that the NWU promote multilingualism. The new statute which was approved in March 2017 provides:-
“The language policy of the university determined by council in accordance with section 27(2) of the Act, must be flexible and functional, and must redress language imbalances of the past and promote multilingualism, access, integration and a sense of belonging.”
(Section 7(6) of the Statute of North-West University)