Reflections on Decolonising of Medium of Instruction at South African Universities
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home language
medium of instruction
language policy

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Mutongoza, B., Mutanho, C., Linake, M., & Makeleni, S. (2023). Reflections on Decolonising of Medium of Instruction at South African Universities. Research in Educational Policy and Management, 5(2), 95-108.


The 2015/6 #Rhodes Must Fall student protest reignited the debate to decolonise higher education in South Africa and many parts of the world. One way of achieving this is through decolonising the language of teaching and learning in higher education to increase access. Within this caveat, we anticipate that this article will add a crucial contribution to contemporary international and local debates on decolonising the medium of instruction by providing evidence from South African institutions’ unique challenges and prospects associated with the quest to deliver quality decolonised education. While tremendous strides have been made in expressing the constitutional right of every learner to receive primary education in a language of their choice, at the university level, the development and implementation of inclusive language policies have been dismal at best. With the demise of the apartheid regime that significantly stifled African languages in South Africa, one could have hoped for changes in attitude and language usage in universities, mainly because universities still have discernible remnants of the apartheid legacy. This article highlights the urgent need for decolonising South African higher education, particularly concerning using English as the medium of instruction. We further hope that this study will benefit practitioners and stakeholders involved in formulating language policies at their respective learning institutions and prompt them to treat the decolonisation process with befitting urgency.
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