17 May 2024
Prof Makhubu-Badenhorst presenting on DHET NLPFPHEIs UCDP to implement institutional policies
17 May 2024


This serves to appraise the university community about language matters at UCT including the UCT Language Development Plan. In 2023, the University of Cape Town (UCT), like all other 26 public universities in South Africa, successfully applied for the funds to align its language policy with the New Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions (NLPFPHEIs) in South Africa, that was promulgated in 2020. The Multilingualism Education Project (MEP) drafted and submitted the UCT language development plan on behalf of the university. 

DHET Funding

In ensuring that the universities align their language policies with the NLPFPHEIs in South Africa, the Department of Higher Education (DHET) set aside R70.2 million for all 26 public universities in the country through the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP). Each university, upon submission of the language development plan, received a maximum of R2.5 million. At UCT, MEP, on behalf of the university did successfully draft and submit the language development plan. The funds are spread over a period of 3 years (2024 to 2026). The first tranche of money, that is R1 million was deposited to all the successful universities in April 2024.

UCT Language Development Plan

The UCT development plan includes various activities whereby MEP will be working with the faculties and the PASS divisions. Among other things, UCT plans to provide translation services for the course outlines; work on the IsiXhosa spellchecker; conduct research on language related matters and to host three language Indabas for each year, that is in 2024, 2025 and 2026. Each year, the theme is different and for 2024, the theme is “promoting understanding on the proposed UCT language policy”. During the LPC meeting that took place on the 13th of May 2024, faculties and PASS divisions representatives were requested to assist in identifying projects that would be presented during the UCT Language Indaba and submit such by the 31st of May 2024 for consideration.

The 2024 language Indaba

The UCT language indaba is scheduled to take place on the 7th of August 2024 at Sarah Baartman Hall. During the Indaba, only UCT departments and divisions are expected to showcase language activities. In addition, only the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB); the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) and Shakai are from outside UCT because they would support the faculties and divisions with language related resources. The format for the Indaba is interactive, to allow the UCT community to ask questions and gain insight on the language policy matters at UCT. The marketing of the 2024 UCT Language Indaba is underway and the UCT community is encouraged to be on the lookout for the posters, UCT Campus TV for more details about the Indaba.

Background on the UCT Language Policy Review

The university has a Language Policy Committee (LPC), that is chaired by the MEP director. The LPC is a committee of Senate and reports all language policy related matters to the UCT Vice Chancellor (VC). The LPC is also constituted by the DVC: Teaching & Learning and the DVC: Transformation Student Affairs & Social Responsiveness; representatives from faculties and Professional Services Staff (PASS). Considering that the LPC is a larger constituency, it established the Language Policy Task Team (LPTT), for operational reasons, that is also chaired by the MEP director.

Currently UCT, through the LPC and the LPTT is reviewing its language policy. The first draft was tabled in the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) in November 2023. Subsequently, during the first quarter of the year in 2024, the faculties and the PASS divisions tabled the proposed UCT language policy in their respective constituencies. It is anticipated that the final draft will be tabled at Senate for recommendation to be finally approved by the UCT council before the end of November 2024. Once the policy is approved, the LPC will assist faculties and PASS divisions to develop their individual language implementation plans for the implementation of the approved UCT language policy.

The Policy

The UCT new language policy proposes three main/official languages, that is IsiXhosa, Afrikaans and English. In addition, the policy has identified South African Sign Language (SASL), Khoekhoegowab and Afrikaaps (Kaaps) as languages for development. SASL is considered, mainly because it is now one of the 12 official languages in South Africa, as of July 2023. UCT is considering a multilingual language policy because DHET, promulgated the New Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions (NLPFPHEIs) in South Africa, in 2020. All universities in the country are aligning their language policies to the afore-mentioned language policy framework in South Africa.


We trust that the UCT community now has gained a bit of insight on developments regarding language policy matters at UCT, and we are looking forward to fruitful engagements. For more information, please contact us or visit the MEP website under CHED at www.mep.uct.ac.za

Compiled by:

Prof Lolie Makhubu-Badenhorst

Director: MEP|CHED

Chairperson: LPC

Chairperson: LPTT