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IsiXhosa is South Africa’s second most popular mother tongue, spoken as a first language by 8.2 million South Africans. Despite the popularity of the language, there is limited expertise in the teaching of early literacy (reading and writing) in isiXhosa (and other African languages) in Teacher Education in South Africa.

UWC-CALT aims to contribute to the development of isiXhosa as a language of teaching and learning in primary schools, and is also geared towards developing Teacher Education for enabling the teaching of – and in – isiXhosa at primary school level.

The Centre partners with three universities in the Eastern Cape where isiXhosa is widely spoken and taught as a home language, namely: Walter Sisulu University, The University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University.

CALT (isiXhosa) will: 

  • Be responsible for strengthening the quality of literacy teaching and learning in isiXhosa in Teacher Education, with a particular focus on the BEd (Foundation Phase) Programme.
  • Focus on the teaching of reading in isiXhosa at the foundation phase, that is from Grades R to 3.  
  • Develop a cadre of young teachers who become experts in the teaching of reading in isiXhosa at the foundation phase level.
  • Ensure that young speakers of isiXhosa are able to shift from learning to read to reading to learn. 
  • Disseminate high quality research in this field via scholarly publications, workshops, conferences, fellowships, postgraduate teaching, and supervision.


CALT (isiXhosa) will:

  • Strengthen the quality of isiXhosa literacy teaching and learning in Teacher Education through developing professional programmes in this field.
  • Develop research capacity and scholarship through PhD and Master's programmes that will inform literacy practice in African languages, particularly in isiXhosa.
  • Build a community of practice by engaging in public education through seminars, conferences and publications on the teaching of reading and broader literacy.
  • Develop and pilot the use of teaching and learning support materials in isiXhosa in Teacher Education. 
  • Engage with organisations pursuing similar goals in and beyond South Africa.

Key activities

CALT (isiXhosa) will focus on the following areas: 

  • Capacity building
  • Research and publications
  • Teaching and supervision 
  • Community engagement and advocacy