News & Media

All-new Unisa Language Festival takes multilingualism to Gauteng schools

An all-new Unisa Language Festival promoting multilingualism kicked off this August. The festival, which previously comprised a one-day show, has in 2017 transformed into a roadshow aimed this year at grade nine and 10 learners in Gauteng schools.

Among the students at Hoërskool Silverton are the staff and crew of the 2017 Unisa Language Festival School Roadshow, including Prof Andrew Phillips (ED:CHS) and Prof Mabel Majanja (School of Arts Director: CHS).

The roadshow, which will reach about 36 000 learners and 1 500 teachers, consists of a fun and educational industrial theatre show which has been crafted to communicate Unisa’s language offerings in the College of Human Sciences (CHS) as well as excite and educate young South Africans about the different languages they can choose from when pursuing their future careers.

“Through this we aim to encourage young people to celebrate the different languages and cultures and tell their stories in their mother tongues,” said School of Arts Director, Professor Mabel Majanja, at the launch event at Hoërskool Silverton, adding that Unisa celebrates diversity by offering qualifications in various languages.

Also speaking at the launch was the CHS Executive Dean, Professor Andrew Phillips. He too expressed the importance of being multilingual in South Africa and the world and explained how learning and knowing many languages can help one in one’s career.

He also said he was happy with how the launch turned out, especially the response from pupils. He was excited and impressed that some pupils approached himself and the Unisa team after the show to discuss subjects required in school so they were able to study languages at university level.

In line with Unisa’s vision of being the African university shaping futures in the service of humanity, CHS has since 2004 hosted the Unisa Language festival to celebrate the diverse languages spoken in South Africa. In the past, the festival showcased all the different languages, cultural background and experiences through dramatic arts, poetry and music, dance and exhibitions; however this only reached about 200 learners and their teachers. This year, the college will be making an even larger impact by reaching more learners with a different modus operandi.

The roadshow, which will tour 60 high schools in the Gauteng region, will also be supporting educators through the curriculum-aligned teacher workbooks that were compiled by the Unisa Language Festival committee. As part of amplification for the programme, a competition has been included, encouraging learners to write an essay on whether they see multilingualism as a resource or a problem in South Africa. Learners who are successful will win prizes up to R10 000 for themselves and their school. Based on the anticipated success of this year’s roadshow, the Unisa Language Festival will take place in various regions in South Africa going forward.

*By Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester