The father, who asked not to be named, said his son was a first-year architecture student at UKZN and was told that if he did not pass Zulu, he would not get his degree.
He claimed his son was not informed about the additional module during registration and often has to take time out of his other lectures to attend the Zulu lectures.
“He is being forced to do Zulu and we were not informed about it when he registered for the course,” he said.
The Zulu module costs R4730.
The father said when he asked why his son had to learn Zulu, he was told there was a possibility that he would be working in KwaZulu-Natal and therefore it would be beneficial if he understood Zulu.
“If we had been told about it, we would have sent him to study at another institution. The module is also quite expensive. We were told that if he did not pass Zulu, that he would not get his certificate. This is not fair. We do not have much of a choice.”
UKZN corporate relations executive director Ashton Stanley Bodrick said the Zulu module is compulsory for all students at UKZN, except for those for whom Zulu is a home language or those who have previously completed a basic Zulu language course.
“Students are made aware of the university’s language policy via the Student Rule book, the student portal and are also informed at orientation days held for all new and first-year students,” Bodrick said.
The university’s student rule book stated that a qualification shall not be conferred or awarded until credit had been obtained for all prescribed modules.
“All first-entry undergraduate students must pass a module in Zulu in order to be degree complete; or obtain exemption from the module under rule GR8a. Exemption from a module may be granted without credit, where an applicant can demonstrate an equivalent level of competence through prior learning,” said Bodrick.
He said UKZN announced its language policy and plan in 2006, and this was revised in 2014.
“The university identifies with the goals of South Africa’s multilingual language policy and seeks to be a key player in its successful implementation. The policy recognises the need to develop and promote proficiency in the official languages, particularly English and Zulu,” he said.
Bodrick said proficiency in Zulu will contribute to nation-building and will assist the student in effective communication with the majority of the population of KwaZulu-Natal.
“This policy seeks to make explicit the benefits of being fully bilingual in English and Zulu in South Africa and to inform a corresponding Language Plan.
The Language Policy of the university also forms part of a wider interconnected strategy at the national level to promote multilingualism and, at the provincial level, to advance Zulu,” he said.