Evaluation of the Cummins theoretical framework for higher education in South Africa
Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy
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In the context of the successful bilingual education of children, the value of the theoretical framework of Jim Cummins is acknowledged by educators and researchers worldwide. This framework is also used extensively in South Africa to provide a structure for educators and researchers that are interested in the relationships between bi- and/or multilingualism and academic success in schools. Cummins consistently describes the context (types of learners, educational and political system, language landscape) within which his theoretical framework is operational and is careful not to extrapolate findings and implications to other contexts. Despite this sensitive approach to context, the framework is extended to the higher-education context in South Africa regularly. The extension of this framework beyond its original context to the higher-education context in South Africa attests to the engagement of higher-education practitioners to understand the relationship between language (specifically medium of instruction) and academic success in South Africa, as well as to the ‘face validity’ of the framework. In this article, the appropriateness of applying the Cummins theoretical framework to the highereducation context in South Africa is evaluated. Implications for the use of the framework in this context are explored.
- NWU Official