On the Inconspicuousness of Indigenous African Languages: The Case of IsiZulu Linguistic Integration in KwaZulu-Natal’s Basic Education Sector

Phephani Gumbi (University of KwaZulu-Natal)


This paper investigates the challenges associated with the inconspicuousness of indigenous African languages in the South African education system, as established during empirical research conducted by the author for his PhD thesis. According to the findings of the research, integrating indigenous African languages in the basic education sector is a key strategic shift that should be considered for it could fast-track efforts to elevate and promote indigenous African languages as media of educational instruction. These languages have been discriminated against for decades, since the era of colonisation and Apartheid South Africa. Despite attempts by the democratic government, through transformative legislative frameworks, African languages are inconspicuous within the education sector. Institutions of learning have developed multilingual language policies yet their implementation remains a problem. Based on the critical review of the literature on indigenous African languages, and with a focus on information and communication technology (ICT), the paper investigates policy opportunities and challenges. The paper concludes by assessing the low profile of indigenous languages in education, and its likely impact on the high failure rate in South African schools.


Inconspicuousness; Information & communication technology (ICT); Indigenous African languages; Basic education sector; Localization

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jler.v1i1.315


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