Message from the Director

We welcome you to our Hub for Multilingual Education and Literacies (HuMEL) at Wits School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand- a unique educational hub with the mission to provide alternative access and success pathways through strategic use of more than one language in our schools!

While very few would question whether our schools have become linguistically complex due to advances and mobility of populations in the world, very many people still see multilingualism as a problem and do not see how more than one language can be used for learning and teaching in one classroom. They often fear that one language will be contaminated if it is ‘mixed’ with another language- the reason multilingualism is stigmatized and often associated with ‘low skills’ and high failure rate. Contrary to this ancient monolingual bias, HuMEL develops successful programmes that leverage on simultaneous use of languages and literacies in the same lesson. And it works!

It is our conviction that high failure of multilingual students and learners in the world’s education systems can be reversed by placing multilingualism in its rightful place: a norm for every education programme. HuMEL is a research, community development and advocacy hub that takes the ideas of ‘knowing’ and ‘being’ into consideration. We view language and literacy as vital in making sense of the world and of oneself, which are two gateways to humanity. Accounting for multilingual learners and students’ multiple pathways of knowing and being allows schools, colleges and universities to be inclusive in producing competent and confident citizens.

At HuMEL we believe that multilingualism is a gift and an invaluable resource for the world in its bio-cultural diversity and a necessary condition for social and economic development. By centering multilingual education, we begin to leverage on the social and human dynamics of the 21st century and develop alternative success stories for everyone in our schools. HuMEL assumed such a leading role, and as one of the top 1% innovative entities on multilingual education in the world, its multiplier effect has gained clout globally.

You are welcome and thank you for visiting our site.

Professor Leketi Makalela, Founding Director