Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Education

Abstract

This research will inform equitable language policy and practice in university education in South Africa. 'Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa' is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Cape Town, University of Birmingham, and Universities South Africa, a non-profit organisation representing South Africa's public universities. The research project, funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, will generate new knowledge to inform the implementation of multilingual policy for teaching and learning in universities in South Africa. Benefits of the project will be increased access to, and success in, higher education for currently disenfranchised sections of society in South Africa. The project builds on and extends existing research by project researchers into translanguaging as pedagogy and multilingualism in society.

Planned Impact

The primary beneficiaries of the research project will be existing students in higher education in South Africa, students planning to enter higher education, and future generations of students in higher education. Secondary beneficiaries will be children and young people in schools, as school teachers graduate from teacher education programmes with new knowledge and skills. Benefits of the project will be increased access to, and success in, higher education for currently disenfranchised sections of society in South Africa. Future generations of students will benefit from the implementation of language policy which is appropriate for their needs and linguistic backgrounds.

The impacts of the research project will be achieved through integrated collaboration with Universities South Africa (USAf), a representative body of South Africa's public universities that promotes an inclusive, responsive and equitable national system of higher education. Impact of the partnership work will be the generation and application of new knowledge to support the implementation of language policy in universities in South Africa. Benefits will also include the development of practical strategy for sustainable progress in implementing language policy.

Impacts of the research project will include lecturers' enhanced expertise and knowledge in translanguaging as pedagogy. This impact will be assured through a programme of workshops in four regions of South Africa. The workshops will extend the knowledge and skills of university lecturers, and will focus on the practical implementation of multilingual language policy in higher education. Impact on policy and practice in universities in South Africa will be facilitated through a round table event with invited higher education policy makers.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title A film 'Researching Translanguaging Summer School' 
Description A film 'Researching Translanguaging Summer School' was made to capture the involvement of 40 international doctoral and early career researchers taking part in a jointly coordinated TLANG and OBUESA run Summer School held at the University of Birmingham in June 2017. This included the participation of 10 South African scholarship scholars who were doctoral researcher and early career researchers. Blackledge, Creese, Madiba, McKinney and Ngwendu all contributed to teaching sessions on the Summer School. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The TLANG team produced 10 short research films about the research process as well as its engagement activities: YouTube analytics show these films have had 6000 unique viewings in total". 
URL https://youtu.be/HtjeLZVUA94
 
Title Film: 'Room for Maneovre: Translanguaging in South African Education' 
Description A film, 'Room for Maneovre: Translanguaging in South African Education' was produced using the workshops and round-table public engagement events. The title of the film is 'Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa' 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The TLANG team produced 10 short research films about the research process as well as its engagement activities: YouTube analytics show these films have had 6000 unique viewings in total". 
URL https://youtu.be/5qzLD1s6Bes
 
Description Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa (AH/P009433/1)(8 months) (1/11/16 - extended to 31/3/18) (PI Creese, CI Blackledge, Madiba, McKinney)
This research promoted an equitable language policy and practice in university education in South Africa. 'Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa' was a collaboration between researchers at the University of Cape Town, University of Birmingham, and Universities South Africa, a non-profit organisation representing South Africa's public universities. The research project, funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, generated new knowledge to inform the implementation of multilingual policy for teaching and learning in universities in South Africa. Benefits of the project were increased access to, and success in, higher education for currently disenfranchised sections of society in South Africa. The project built on and extended existing research by project researchers into translanguaging as pedagogy and multilingualism in society.
Aim: The project aimed to inform the implementation of language policy to provide wider access to, and extended success in, higher education in South Africa for currently under-represented sections of society
Objectives: This aim was achieved by meeting the following objectives:
1. Enhancing knowledge and understanding of translanguaging as pedagogy in higher education in South Africa.
2. Extending lecturers' and tutors' knowledge and expertise in implementing translanguaging as pedagogy in higher education in South Africa.
3. Developing policy makers' knowledge and expertise in the development of translanguaging as pedagogy in higher education in South Africa.
4. Developing the research capacity and international networks of ten early-career South African researchers on translanguaging.

In order to meet these objectives, several different activities were put in place. First, the South African team (Madiba and McKinney) evaluated 3 existing ethnographically informed case studies: the mathematics white board project; the teacher education project; and, academic support in occupational therapy project. Second, the full project team (Blackledge, Creese, Madiba, McKinney, Ngwendu) organised and ran a series of workshops at four South African universities to work with lecturers and doctoral researchers on translanguaging pedagogy as theory and practice. Third, the project team co-convened a round table event with project partner Universities South Africa (USAf) to work with policy stakeholders and senior university management to influence language policy in South African universities. Fourth, an international summer school was held at University of Birmingham for early career researchers including 10 scholarship recipients from South Africa. Fifth, we produced two films. The first film focused on the workshops and round table in South Africa in relation to language policy, while the second film captured the development of early career researchers at the summer school in relation to translanguaging as practice and theory.
Below we summarize the findings and point to the project's impact:
1. Case Study Research

Case Study One was to investigate the use of 'natural translanguaging' in Mathematics White Board tutorials. Maths was selected for this project because it is one of the courses that impede graduation at UCT, due to high remission. The reasons for the high failure rate range from students' poor academic background to teaching methodology and language problems. The 'Maths White Board project' was initiated to address these challenges. Translanguaging was found to develop conceptual understanding of maths and deepen students' knowledge of the subject. Translanguaging was used by proficient multilinguals who intentionally integrated local and academic discourse which enabled them to develop their own voice and to engage critically with academic concepts rather than learning definitions by rote.

Impact: Following the research, the University of Cape Town accepted the findings that translanguaging had a positive effect on the learning of mathematics. The Maths White Board sessions were extended by UCT and further resourced. Such sessions are now integrated into the academic timetable, where they are offered daily to students rather than on Saturday mornings only. Pass rates on the module will need to be monitored further.

Impact: UCT is reconsidering its language policy in the light of the research. Madiba and McKinney continue to work with senior university management to develop a new multilingual language policy.

Impact: The research has resulted in the development of Maths multilingual glossaries and a multilingual Maths textbook that is being compiled by a team of Maths teachers/tutors and language experts.

Case Study Two focused on a class of 25 student teachers of year 1-3 children in a course on multilingualism and multiliteracies. The course is part of a year-long Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) programme. This case study was designed as an intervention in which the multilingual lecturer (Xolisa Guzula) planned to challenge Anglonormative (McKinney, 2017) monolingual language ideologies through modelling translanguaging practices, requiring students to collaborate in order to produce work in isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English, enabling them to use their full linguistic repertoires in learning to teach. Educational practices in South Africa which privilege English disadvantage the majority who do not speak English as a home language. Where the dominant language of instruction in South African universities continues to be English, working-class and poor black students have limited access to, and success in, higher education. An approach which offers instruction in all the official languages of South Africa opens up university education to currently disenfranchised sections of society.

Impact: Research found that through changing the normative language practices of the classroom from English to a translanguaging approach, power relations were shifted and previously marginalised students were more active in class.

Impact: The findings have resulted in an extension to other modules in the teacher education programme. A translanguaging approach is now being adopted throughout the academic year across all modules in the Language and Literacy pedagogy course. This exposes greater numbers of students to the theory and practice of translanguaging and means that monolingual trainee teachers are learning about the value of multilingualism as an academic resource.

Case Study Three investigated academic support tutorials in the Occupational Therapy programme. This case study showcased the implementation of innovative pedagogic strategies in which a multilingual lecturer facilitated multilingual discussions to support teaching and learning among these students. The participants were encouraged to draw from their multilingual and other semiotic resources in discussion of occupational therapy concepts, and of the requirements for practice learning.

Impact: Linguistic resources from African languages such as isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho and Tsonga were recruited in the process of learning occupational therapy. Initial findings show translanguaging allowed students to join in classroom discussions more confidently, and they were more able to self-confidently approach assignments. The lecturer has disseminated this information to colleagues in Health Sciences and Education.

Impact: Translanguaging pedagogy is addressing issues of social justice pertaining to vocational training and skills-based education.

2. Workshops

Four workshops on translanguaging as pedagogy were held for university lecturers at four universities, across a wide range of subject disciplines. McKinney, Madiba, Blackledge and Creese led the workshops, each of which attracted over 30 participants, including lecturers engaged in teacher education and training, and in teaching African languages. The workshops also included postgraduate and undergraduate students.

• University of Cape Town: 4 May 2017 (37 participants)
• Rhodes University: 11 May 2017 (33 participants)
• University of Wits: 16 May 2017 (35 participants)
• University of Limpopo: 17 May 2017 (62 participants)

Impact: Lecturers and students enhanced their expertise and knowledge in translanguaging as pedagogy. The opportunity to debate in-depth the issues around language policy in South Africa was provided.

3. Round table

The roundtable was entitled 'Implementing Language Policy in Higher Education'. The event was hosted by Universities South Africa (USAF) and education policy-makers in South Africa. The OBUESA team were invited to USAF's regional meeting on 26 May 2017 at the River Club, Cape Town. Blackledge and Creese spoke to delegates about their ongoing research on translanguaging. The round table event also heard from the four different South African university scenarios.
50 senior academics and policy leaders from Universities across South Africa attended the round-table and debated translanguaging and multilingualism as a viable language policy in their own universities.

Impact: The aim of USAf is to promote an inclusive, responsive and equitable national system of higher education. USAf investigates ways in which African languages can be used in a multilingual framework to promote teaching and learning in higher education. This collaborative research project was directly and primarily relevant to current educational needs in South Africa. The project brought new research into interaction with current practice. It enabled evaluation of current practice to inform policy-making, and thereby extended teaching and learning in universities in South Africa beyond existing constituencies. Project co-investigator Madiba chairs USAF's Community of Practice on African Languages (CoPAL) and therefore holds a persuasive and influential position to influence policy direction at USAf.

4. International Summer School

A week-long intensive residential summer school programme, Researching Translanguaging, was held in Birmingham June 2017. The summer school developed research skills and knowledge for national and international researchers in multilingual settings. The programme was taught by scholars from the TLANG team in UK and from UCT in SA (McKinney, Madiba). Ten scholarships were provided for South African doctoral and early career researchers which covered travel and accommodation costs for a week visit to Birmingham. Forty five early career researchers from 21 countries attened.

Impact: The summer school developed an international network of researchers in translanguaging as pedagogy. The summer school sessions were filmed, and are now available on the TLANG website which provides a sustainable online resource. The outstanding evaluations of the Summer School were exceptional. Participants spoke of new knowledge, new practice and confidence to shape policy in their own national contexts. All participants including the 10 scholarship students from South Africa developed new networks, new research knowledge and expertise in translanguaging.

5. Project Research Films

The project produced two research based films. The first film 'Room for Maneovre: Translanguaging in South African Education' was viewed and discussed at the USAF CoPAL meeting 13th March, 2018. It was used for tutor training workshops at the University of Cape Town. It was viewed and enthusiastically received by project team members including all the early career scholars (12 people) at the final project workshop. Participants were extremely positive about the film and committed to using it in teaching at their own institutions (University of Cape Town, University of Limpopo and Rhodes University). In 2018, the film will be shown as a catalyst for discussions on the use of translanguaging in teaching and learning at the three university sites. It will also be made available on the UCT Open Resources Website. It is too early to report on its impact.

The second film 'Researching Translanguaging Summer School' was made to capture the involvement of the 40 international doctoral and early career researchers taking part in a jointly coordinated TLANG and OBUESA run Summer School held at the University of Birmingham in June 2017. Blackledge, Creese, Madiba, and McKinney all contributed to teaching sessions on the Summer School.

Both films have been available on the digital stories section of the TLANG website since early 2018, where they have been viewed 216 times.

Conclusion:
Overall the primary beneficiaries of the research programme are existing students in higher education in South Africa, students planning to enter higher education, and future generations of students in higher education. Also beneficiaries are the early career scholars who through research capacity building and the consciousness-raising of strategies for their own university teaching will contribute to improving higher education teaching in South Africa.
Secondary beneficiaries are children and young people in schools, as school-teachers graduated from teacher education programmes with new knowledge and skills. This programme was and continues to be timely in that it develops the knowledge and expertise of university lecturers and policy-makers in South Africa in a period of change in language policy in higher education.
Exploitation Route We intend to take our work forward by considering how university classroom pedagogy prepares students for the multilingual workplace by focusing on the vocations of teaching and healthcare.
Sectors Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/tlang/index.aspx
 
Description Aim: The project aimed to inform the implementation of language policy to provide wider access to, and extended success in, higher education in South Africa for currently under-represented sections of society Objectives: This aim was achieved by meeting the following objectives: 1. Enhancing knowledge and understanding of translanguaging as pedagogy in higher education in South Africa. 2. Extending lecturers' and tutors' knowledge and expertise in implementing translanguaging as pedagogy in higher education in South Africa. 3. Developing policy makers' knowledge and expertise in the development of translanguaging as pedagogy in higher education in South Africa. 4. Developing the research capacity and international networks of ten early-career South African researchers on translanguaging. In order to meet these objectives, several different activities were put in place. First, the South African team (Madiba and McKinney) evaluated 3 existing ethnographically informed case studies: the mathematics white board project; the teacher education project; and, academic support in occupational therapy project. Second, the full project team (Blackledge, Creese, Madiba, McKinney, Ngwendu) organised and ran a series of workshops at four South African universities to work with lecturers and doctoral researchers on translanguaging pedagogy as theory and practice. Third, the project team co-convened a round table event with project partner Universities South Africa (USAf) to work with policy stakeholders and senior university management to influence language policy in South African universities. Fourth, an international summer school was held at University of Birmingham for early career researchers including 10 scholarship recipients from South Africa. Fifth, we produced two films. The first film focused on the workshops and round table in South Africa in relation to language policy, while the second film captured the development of early career researchers at the summer school in relation to translanguaging as practice and theory. The project team can report 11 impacts following from the grant: 1. Impact: Following the research, the University of Cape Town accepted the findings that translanguaging had a positive effect on the learning of mathematics. The Maths White Board sessions were extended by UCT and further resourced. Such sessions are now integrated into the academic timetable, where they are offered daily to students rather than on Saturday mornings only. Pass rates on the module will need to be monitored further. 2. Impact: UCT is reconsidering its language policy in the light of the research. Madiba and McKinney continue to work with senior university management to develop a new multilingual language policy. 3. Impact: The research has resulted in the development of Maths multilingual glossaries and a multilingual Maths textbook that is being compiled by a team of Maths teachers/tutors and language experts. 4. Impact: Research found that through changing the normative language practices of the classroom from English to a translanguaging approach, power relations were shifted and previously marginalised students were more active in class. 5. Impact: The findings have resulted in an extension to other modules in the teacher education programme. A translanguaging approach is now being adopted throughout the academic year across all modules in the Language and Literacy pedagogy course. This exposes greater numbers of students to the theory and practice of translanguaging and means that monolingual trainee teachers are learning about the value of multilingualism as an academic resource. 6. Impact: Linguistic resources from African languages such as isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho and Tsonga were recruited in the process of learning occupational therapy. Initial findings show translanguaging allowed students to join in classroom discussions more confidently, and they were more able to self-confidently approach assignments. The lecturer has disseminated this information to colleagues in Health Sciences and Education. 7. Impact: Translanguaging pedagogy is addressing issues of social justice pertaining to vocational training and skills-based education. 8. Impact: Lecturers and students enhanced their expertise and knowledge in translanguaging as pedagogy. The opportunity to debate in-depth the issues around language policy in South Africa was provided. 9. Impact: The aim of USAf is to promote an inclusive, responsive and equitable national system of higher education. USAf investigates ways in which African languages can be used in a multilingual framework to promote teaching and learning in higher education. This collaborative research project was directly and primarily relevant to current educational needs in South Africa. The project brought new research into interaction with current practice. It enabled evaluation of current practice to inform policy-making, and thereby extended teaching and learning in universities in South Africa beyond existing constituencies. Project co-investigator Madiba chairs USAF's Community of Practice on African Languages (CoPAL) and therefore holds a persuasive and influential position to influence policy direction at USAf. 10. Impact: The summer school developed an international network of researchers in translanguaging as pedagogy. The summer school sessions were filmed, and are now available on the TLANG website which provides a sustainable online resource. The outstanding evaluations of the Summer School were exceptional. Participants spoke of new knowledge, new practice and confidence to shape policy in their own national contexts. All participants including the 10 scholarship students from South Africa developed new networks, new research knowledge and expertise in translanguaging. 11. Impact: The two project films, 'Room for Maneovre: Translanguaging in South African Education' and 'Researching Translanguaging Summer School' have been viewed by senior university management at the USAF meeting on 13 March 2018. They have been used as teaching resource at University of Cape Town, University of Limpopo and Rhodes University. It will also be made available on the UCT Open Resources Website. It is too early to report on its impact.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Colloquium Translanguaging for learning in Higher Education? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This was an invited colloquium which brought South African perspectives on translanguaging in higher education. The colloquium involved the following participants from South Africa:
Carolyn McKinney & Mbulungeni Madiba - Colloquium I
Translanguaging for learning in Higher Education?

1. Mbulungeni Madiba & Amandla Ngwendu
Using translanguaging to facilitate Multilingual Mathematics Teaching and Learning at University level
2. Xolisa Guzula & Carolyn McKinney
Delinking from Colonial Language Ideologies: translanguaging & language hierarchies in teacher education
3. Soraya Abdulatief
Moving to learn and learning to move: developing an academic literacy Thirdspace for multilingual preservice science teachers
4. Matumo Ramafikeng Translanguaging as a pedagogic strategy for facilitating active learning among multilingual Occupational Therapy students
5. Reneilwe Malatji & Abram Mashatole
Translanguaging as a vehicle of active learning for multilingual students: A case study of a bilingual bachelor degree at the University of Limpopo.
6. Sisonke Mawonga, Pamela Maseko & Dion Nkomo
Exploring translanguaging for epistemic access in a South African university classroom
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/tlang/conference/index.aspx
 
Description Film showing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Community of Practice for African Languages (CoPAL) Meeting:

The Translanguaging film was shown in USaF Community of Practice for African Languages meetings held the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (2018), Nelson Mandela University (2018), and the University of the Witwatersrand (2018) and the feedback was very positive.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.linkedin.com/in/mbulungeni-madiba-963a3563/?originalSubdomain=za
 
Description Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Addressing inequalities in higher education: theoretical approaches and evidence from practice in South Africa. A seminar organised at the University of Birmingham. Invited presenters Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge: 'Translanguaging: what it is, what it does, how it can be useful'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Madiba, M. 2018. Theorising practice and practising theories: a study of natural translanguaging in the multilingual tutorials at the University of Cape Town. Sociolinguistics Symposium 22, University of Auckland, NZ. 27-30 June 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The OBUESA project team Blackledge, Creese, Madiba, McKinney, Ngwendu gave presentations and ran a workshops at four South African Universities during May 2017: Cape Town, Limpopo, Rhodes and Witwatersrand. Faculty and students attended these sessions which took place in Schools of Education and Departments of African Languages. There were just under 200 participants attending the workshops which produced passionate debates about the role of African languages and translanguaging in South African Universities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Round-table 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact International CI Madiba chairs USAF's Community of Practice on African Languages (CoPA)L, The OBUESA team presented at USAF's regional meeting on 26 May 2017 at the River Club, Cape Town. Blackledge and Creese spoke to delegates about their ongoing research on translanguaging. 50 senior academics and policy leaders from Universities across South Africa attended the round-table and debated translanguaging and multilingualism as a viable language policy in their own universities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.usaf.ac.za/communities-of-practice/
 
Description Summer School 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A week-long intensive residential summer school programme, Researching Translanguaging, was held in Birmingham June 2017. The summer school developed research skills and knowledge for national and international researchers in multilingual settings. The programme was taught by scholars from the TLANG team in UK and from UCT in SA (McKinney, Madiba). Ten scholarships were provided for South African doctoral and early career researchers which covered travel and accommodation costs for a week visit to Birmingham. These competitive scholarships enabled South African researchers to develop research knowledge and expertise in translanguaging. The summer school developed an international network of researchers in translanguaging as pedagogy. The summer school sessions were filmed, and are now available on the TLANG website as a sustainable online resource.
Evaluations of the Summer School are available from the PI Creese.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://youtu.be/HtjeLZVUA94
 
Description Teaching workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Multilingual Tutor-Training programmes:

Awareness raising and training workshops on translanguaging pedagogy were conducted for tutors involved in teaching different disciplines.

Student Residence Life: Two training workshops were offered to about 300 tutors in student residences.
Tutor Training Programme for Humanities: A training workshop was offered to about 100 tutors in Humanities Faculty.
Tutor Training Programme for the UCT Writing Consultants: A training workshop was also offered to about 15 UCT Writing Centre Consultants.
Maths 1000W- Tutors for the Maths White Board Project were introduced to the translanguaging approach.

Use was made of TLANG film 'Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa' https://youtu.be/5qzLD1s6Bes
Attendees reported a high satisfaction with the film and its message.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Madiba, M. and Ngwenya, A. 2018. Using translanguaging to facilitate Multilingual Mathematics Teaching and Learning at University level. Colloquium on Translanguaging for learning in Higher Education?', 28-29 March, TLANG Conference, University of Birmingham.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018