Plans to teach in mother tongue welcomed

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Aug 16 13:33:22 UTC 2005

>>From the Cape Times

Plans to teach in mother tongue welcomed

By A'eysha Kassiem

Education unions have strongly supported the Western Cape education
department's plan to extend mother-tongue education among primary school
pupils, saying it will have a strong impact on matric results. They have
also welcomed the plan to implement Xhosa as a compulsory subject at
schools. Education MEC Cameron Dugmore said the first phase would be
introduced at the start of next year, but this would be a "slow process"
as the department had to take into account the need for textbooks and
teacher capacity.

'The plan is educationally sound'

Dave Balt, president of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of
South Africa, said: "It is a step in the right direction and will
certainly assist with pupil performance. "It is an enormous challenge for
pupils to understand concepts in a different language, so the plan is
educationally sound. "Mother-tongue education, particularly at the
foundation phase, is fundamental."

The department plans to extend mother-tongue education among pupils from
Grade R to Grade 4 and eventually to Grade 6. Some pupils are being taught
in their mother tongue from Grade R to Grade 3, while others opt to be
taught in English. Dugmore said a language policy implementation unit was
to decide the stage at which English and Afrikaans-speaking pupils would
take up Xhosa as a third language.

Speaking at the Language in Education Policy Summit on Friday, he said:
"We have evidence that the system is not working - we have a high drop-out
rate, our test scores show poor literacy and numeracy levels and, in the
senior certificate standardisation process, the marks for speakers of
African languages are scaled up." The unit would be set up by the end of
the month. An implementation plan is to be in place within two months.

Don Pasquallie, spokesperson for the South African Democratic Teachers'
Union, said the initiative was "long overdue". "This will definitely
increase the matric pass rate among township pupils, while making Xhosa
compulsory will assist in uniting South Africans." Willie Chadalala,
deputy president of the South African Principals' Association, said the
initiative would have a "positive impact on pupils".

This article was originally published on page 5 of The Cape Times on
August 15, 2005

Published on the Web by IOL on 2005-08-15 07:13:00
 Independent Online 2005.

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