UKZN Education Academic Involved in Siyakhuluma Community Engagement Project
A Lecturer in the isiZulu Discipline on the Edgewood Campus, Ms Tholani Hlongwa, is currently working with the Siyakhuluma Project, a Durban-based educational non-profit organisation which teaches isiZulu and English at community and corporate levels.
Through Hlongwa’s work, the Project - directed by Mr Christo Spetsiotis - is now officially collaborating with UKZN’s isiZulu discipline on the Edgewood campus.
Hlongwa, whose duties are to help develop the syllabi and teaching materials and assist in training the Project’s teachers, started working with the organisation in November last year when Spetsiotis was piloting it.
‘Christo had come to the School of Education looking for someone to help him with the Project and he was referred to me. I took a keen interest in his work as it linked to my research. Together we developed the teaching materials. This also allowed me to build on my community development passion and to be an ambassador for UKZN,’ she explained.
Hlongwa’s PhD focuses on IsiZulu second language pedagogy and is supervised by Professor Thabisile Buthelezi, the Language and Arts discipline co-ordinator.
Hlongwa created lessons that linked to the Project’s motto: Bridging the Linguistic Divide; Creating an Integrated Society. ‘I get excited about languages and this venture opened a new page for me. It gave me a platform to provide knowledge to the community. The reaction from the classes has been mutually beneficial - we converse in isiZulu and they also learn about African culture. It has been wonderful so far.’
The classes run for two terms with hour-long, weekly lessons. There are even basic and advanced isiZulu classes with everyone being given the chance to improve on their language skills.
‘I am continuing to work with the whole team as they need guidance on how to design the teaching material suitable for adults. The participants are aged between 30 to 60. When I volunteer my time, I use the Hellenic Community Centre in Durban North,’ said Hlongwa.
One of the participants, Mr Brandon Stephenson, said: ‘This is an awesome initiative. I thoroughly enjoyed it and Tholani is a brilliant teacher!’ Another participant, Mrs Irene Green, added that ‘the lessons are worth it’.
Spetsiotis said: ‘A very big NGIYABONGA KAKHULU to Tholani Hlongwa for her wonderful lessons during the project's pilot course. She is an exceptional teacher and her years of experience teaching isiZulu are evident in her work.’
The Siyakhuluma Project has grown significantly and currently offers adult and children isiZulu courses in the morning and evenings in Durban North, Hillcrest, and Westville. Hlongwa and Spetsiotis are currently developing an adult isiZulu course that is KZN specific and focuses on practical language learning methods and techniques.
For more information, visit http://www.thesiyakhulumaproject.co.za/