School of Arts

UKZN Staffer writes research in isiZulu, graduates with PhD in African Languages

Dr Phephani Gumbi graduates with his PhD in African Languages
Dr Phephani Gumbi graduates with his PhD in African Languages

University of KwaZulu-Natal education lecturer Dr Phephani Gumbi, graduated with a PhD in African languages.

Gumbi, who penned his thesis in isiZulu, said he was proud of his achievement.

He saw a gap and a need for isiZulu scholarship and decided to make a contribution in this field as a researcher.

He explored the language policies of schools in Harrismith, in the Free State, in relation to the national language policies and that of the province. His research investigated issues of social justice in the use of official languages, the indigenous African languages in particular, which are isiZulu and isiSuthu during teaching, learning and assessment in the Free State Province.

‘Every learner has a right to use the language of his or her choice during learning,’ said Gumbi.

The overarching findings of his study, was amongst others the marginalisation of African indigenous languages as languages of learning, teaching and assessment.

‘Such a practice has negative consequences as it does not only defeat social justice ideals and social cohesion but should also be viewed as a continuation of oppression against indigenous people and their languages,’ explained Gumbi.

He recommended that there was a need for the development of school language policies that would take on board African indigenous languages as languages of teaching, learning and assessment in schools.

‘The use of African indigenous languages as languages of teaching and learning assessment could change the lives of indigenous language speaking learners for the better thus providing them with a platform to benefit from the fruits of South Africa’s hard-fought freedom and democracy.’

Gumbi plans on continuing his career as an academic and working on other research publications, journal articles and supervising more students to reach their full potential.

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