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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070


MAYABA, Nokhanyo Nomakhwezi; RALARALA, Monwabisi K.  and  ANGU, Pineteh. Student voice: Perspectives on language and critical pedagogy in South African higher education. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2018, vol.7, n.1, pp.1-12. ISSN 2221-4070.

In the past two years, higher education institutions (HEI) have been inundated with students' demands for a decolonised education. Their voice led to the resuscitation of debates on a transformed curriculum. Amongst others, the language question is an issue at the centre of these debates. What students were questioning was the hegemony of English, the slow pace in which universities implement multilingual policies, and lack of clarity on the positioning of African languages as languages of learning and teaching. In this paper, we argue that if higher education aims to address marginalised and new knowledge through a decolonised curriculum, fundamental questions are worth being asked. In particular the questions we are asking and responding to are: "How does student voice become a force for social change?" "How can student voice enable HEIs to deal with the issue of language?" We suggest and support the view that the issue of language should be recognised as a social justice issue, that student voice can enlighten curriculum designers and society on the dangers of reproducing inequalities through the hegemony of English, and that graduate attributes, as an essential notion, should recognise multilingualism as a core skill that students should acquire.

Keywords : graduate attributes; higher education institution; language; multilingualism; social change; student voice.

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