guru receives empowerment award



Johan Blaauw’s passion for languages has earned him a well-deserved place among a few select people who have received a coveted Koker Award from the Afrikaans Language Council.

Johan, the director of the NWU’s Language Directorate, received this accolade on 20 November 2020 for empowering people through Afrikaans.


He is however not only passionate about the use of Afrikaans as an academic language, but also about promoting the academic status of African languages.


Extending the privilege


“It is a privilege for Afrikaans-speaking students to complete a degree in Afrikaans at the NWU, but we can’t keep this privilege to ourselves. The speakers of our fellow African languages should also be able to enjoy the benefit of being empowered through their mother tongue.


“We make this possible by promoting Setswana and Sesotho, the predominant languages of the regions where our campuses are situated, as languages of instruction, alongside Afrikaans and English. This is of course in line with the NWU’s multilingual policy,” he says.


Johan, a versatile language practitioner since 1979, has played a huge role in developing and promoting the NWU’s language policy. He was also key in establishing a ground-breaking educational interpreting service at the university – a system which is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Sharing the dream


“Ultimately, we want our students to be able to master, internalise and reproduce teaching-learning content better – and to do so in a number of languages,” he says.


“Our dream is to create a university where everybody will feel welcome in their languages and be able to use these to teach, learn and interact freely,” says Johan.