n South African Journal of Higher Education - Language policy in higher education in South Africa : implications and complications : perspectives on higher education




This article offers a discussion of the recently finalised Language policy for higher education document (November 2002). After a brief account of the general background to the policy, the article focuses on the two main thrusts of the document: the need to develop (South African) African languages as academic/ scientific languages for use in instruction; and the need to develop student proficiency in the currently designated language(s) of tuition, namely, English and, to a lesser extent, Afrikaans. In each case, this article argues that the processes entailed in meeting these needs are neither simple nor straightforward, but involve instead a number of complexities that need to be acknowledged and addressed. The bulk of the article, then, is devoted to clarifying the apparently unforeseen or unrecognised implications and complications of the policy document. Finally, the article considers the efforts made by one higher education institution to formulate an appropriate language policy as an example of the degree of difficulty inherent in such an enterprise.


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