In order for student partnerships to be successful, South African universities have to embark on listening campaigns, opening up dialogue with students on curriculum reform to reflect linguistic diversity.
This view was shared by an English Studies expert during this week’s Student Learning/Student Feedback Symposium hosted by Fundani’s Student Learning Unit on the Bellville Campus.
Dr Thulani Mkhize, a Senior Lecturer in English Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who delivered the keynote address under the title, The role of a university in creating and promoting student partnerships.
Mkhize said that due to the increased number of African students who entered universities after 1994, the South African higher education landscape is characterised by unprecedented linguistic and cultural diversity. In contrast, English and Afrikaans were the dominant languages and cultures in the country’s tertiary institutions to the negation of the indigenous language.
“Yet, when one looks at the demographics of the South African university student population, these linguistic and cultural practices can be quite alienating for the majority of students,” she argued. “Thus, it becomes clear to black students entering universities previously designed for white students, that they are entering a space not made with them in mind, even well after democracy.”
She observed that although the nation had been politically decolonised, many of its institutions remain systematically unchanged to reflect a multicultural and multilingual society that “honours the linguistic and cultural rights of all its people; hence the 2015 #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall movements”.
She concluded that student partnerships with African students at the forefront was a prerequisite for “teaching and learning to take place from an African context as a point of departure”.
Fundani’s Director, Prof Monwabisi Ralarala, said that while student feedback was important to consider during the symposium, lecturers’ feedback was equally important too.
Written by Kwanele Butana
Provides coverage for the Business and Management Sciences and Education Faculties, Student Affairs Department and Cape Town and Mowbray Campuses.