Xhosa course helps transformation

27 October 2008 | Story by Myolisi Gophe

Xhosa course
Diversity: The basic Xhosa communication skills course will be extended to many more residences at UCT.

UCT's plans vision to diversify residences received a boost when scores of students completed the basic Xhosa communication skills course known as masithethe isiXhosa (let's speak Xhosa).

This has given them an opportunity to learn more about the Xhosa culture, undergone a personal transformation, noted Associate Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, co-ordinator of the Multilinguism Education Project at the Centre for Higher Education Development.

"If you speak to a people with a language that is not their mother tongue, you are only speaking to their heads. But if you speak in their language, you are talking to their hearts and souls," Madiba explained to the 32 students who received their certificates on 22 October.

He said the six-month course, which was hosted in the evenings, was piloted at Graça Machel Hall and Clarinus residences after students requested it.

Because of its success, it will be rolled out to two more residences in the first semester next year.

Initially, Madiba said, they were hoping to have 10 students from each residence during the pilot project, but 58 enrolled.

Grant Willis, acting director at the Department of Student Housing and Residence Life, said the success of the course would help break barriers between students.

"The student housing allocation policy allows for the creation of an environment in which students from diverse backgrounds live together," he explained. "It is not enough just to place students, but we need to ensure that the environment succeeds. This Xhosa course assists the process greatly."

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