Language, literacy and social justice

We are a collective of language and literacy researchers, activists, educators and teacher educators.  We have established the bua-lit collective to share knowledge and resources and to speak out about multilingual language and literacy education in South Africa.

In the context of the failures in the South African education system to build equality and the urgency to address these failures, a number of debates about literacy are circulating, research projects are underway, policy changes are mooted and some large-scale interventions are being put in place.  Now more than ever, it is crucial that we engage with the complexities of providing successful language and literacy education.

Why bua-lit?

‘bua’ – is Setswana for ‘speak’ and/or ‘speak out’. We also want to acknowledge the pioneering work in multilingual education of the National Language Project who produced a wonderful publication called Bua! in the early 1990s.

‘lit’ – on fire – we all know what that means! And lit for literacy.

Our Mission

Our work challenges the narrow skills-based view of literacy and puts forward dynamic and cutting-edge ideas about how literacy and language can be viewed, practised and taught. Drawing on a wide range of scholarship from South Africa and internationally, our collective aims to:

  • enrich understandings of what literacy is, what it means to be literate and the many pathways to becoming successfully literate in schooling and higher education;
  • show that what counts as evidence in educational research (and especially in literacy assessments and interventions) is highly contested;
  • highlight the fact that the current curriculum and language in education policies ignore the resources that typical South African children bring with them to schooling, to their great disadvantage.

We have produced a paper which can be read on this website or downloaded here

In Focus

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