University of South Africa: Unisa’s RPL Unit shines at the PanSALB Awards

Unisa’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Unit was among the competitors in the education category. The category recognises universities for their use and promotion of multilingualism in their institutions’ language policy, tuition material and signage in campus buildings.

Eight universities took part in the education category. Unisa took third place, following the University of Venda in second place and the University of Stellenbosch in first place

Addressing the audience, Manamela cautioned that the power of a language does not only lie in speaking it but also in using it to create and transmit culture over time. He said: “These awards take place at a time when we as a country commemorate the epoch-shaping moment commonly referred to as the June 16 uprising, a moment that is significant in several respects for our quest to construct a free and humane post-colonial society. The June 16 uprising reminds us how central the language issue was to the project of colonialism.”

The role of Unisa’s RPL Unit is to oversee the identification, assessment and acknowledgement of an individual’s skills and knowledge within the context of a specific qualification. This is done irrespective of how and where an individual acquired the skills. In addition, the unit assists prospective students in gaining admission to Unisa’s qualifications.

Sharing his sentiments about the award, the Acting Executive Director of the Department of Tuition Support and Facilitation of Learning (DTSFL), Prof Moroka Mogashoa, said: “Unisa RPL developed this project during COVID-19. The project produced RPL multilingual videos, which are available online.”

“Placing resources online aligns with Unisa’s strategy to completely move teaching and learner support online. The aim is to ensure prospective students can access these videos any time and anywhere,” he added. Mogashoa emphasised: “Moshito wa tlou o shishinya dithaba,” which means that Unisa is big, and when it moves, its impact is also felt in remote areas.

Also sharing his sentiments about the award, Dr Mutambuli James Hadji, Manager of the RPL Unit, said that he appreciates and is grateful to various stakeholders and colleagues within and outside Unisa who reacted positively when they were approached to share ideas to improve the RPL Unit. He said: “Munwe muthihi a u ṱusi mathuthu. Mutuka wa haya ha vhifhi, ndi ngazwo vhahura na vhaḽedzani vho ḓa vha ri phalala,” which means that the RPL Unit could not have achieved this alone without the people that responded positively and worked together with the unit when called upon to do so. Hadji also acknowledged the contribution that the Language Unit and the Department of African Languages played in the project’s development.

The peak of the award ceremony was the presentation of the Lifetime Award to the legendary Xitsonga artist, Dr Thomas Chauke. The PanSALB ceremony was serenaded by performances by the cream of the entertainment industry, including Somizi Mhlongo, Rami Chuene, Makhadzi, Tuks Senganga and Mashabela.