South Africa: more lg. policy news.

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Aug 17 13:23:24 UTC 2005

1.   Xhosa teacher pool mooted in Western Cape

By Theresa Smith

Western Cape education officials are considering making Xhosa teachers
available across the province to help schools achieve a multi-lingual
education system. Education MEC Cameron Dugmore said a task team was being
formed to work out the practicalities of the language policy, which should
be gazetted by the end of the year. "This is a firm commitment we are
making in response to the minister of education's call," Dugmore said.

One plan is to form a pool of itinerant Xhosa teachers in each magisterial
district to help schools that don't offer the language. 'It has an
automatic boost for Xhosa children' Western Cape education department
senior curriculum planner Anne Schlebusch said while it was the school
governing body's duty to declare the language medium of instruction at a
school, the policy was meant to equalise the status of the province's
three official languages at schools.

"We have a legacy of having given status only to English and Afrikaans and
if something like this step actually upgrades the status of Xhosa in
schools, it has an automatic boost for Xhosa children and their parents,"
said Schlebusch. Aside from practicalities such as finding appropriate
textbooks and suitable teachers, Schlebusch said two important issues had
to be thrashed out. These were supporting teachers to eventually extend
mother tongue education to Grade 6, and making a third language compulsory
for three years.

Schlebusch said the importance of receiving mother tongue instruction had
been proven empirically. Children struggled initially to learn abstract
concepts and they were at a double disadvantage if it was in another
language. Does the Western Cape have enough staff who can teach in Xhosa?
"Research says a child needs five to seven years before developing
academic proficiency in a second language," she said. She added that
several township primary school teachers used Xhosa to explain concepts to
children, then switched over to English, the school's medium of

The best way to support these teachers was to provide textbooks and
support material in Xhosa and alert them to new teaching methodologies
where necessary. She said the issue of introducing Xhosa as a compulsory
language stemmed from a provision in the Revised National Curriculum
Statement which said all pupils had to learn an African language for at
least three years by the end of Grade 9. The Western Cape education
language policy should stipulate in which grades this would happen.

Schlebusch said the curriculum for learning a third language was already
in place, but a system would have to be worked out for children who had
never been exposed to the language to catch up to those who had. While the
move to give Xhosa equal status to English and Afrikaans in education has
been widely welcomed, the big question is whether the Western Cape has
enough teachers who can handle Xhosa as a medium of instruction. In the
past two years, not a single teacher graduating from the University of
Cape Town qualified as a Xhosa teacher. None of the teachers who graduated
from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology specialised in teaching
languages and their medium of instruction is English.

Schlebusch, however, thinks the situation is not all that dire since many
teachers have a working knowledge of Xhosa which, with sufficient
retraining, they could put to good use. Dugmore added that one way to
encourage matriculants to become Xhosa teachers was to provide pay-back
bursaries through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, thus
guaranteeing and creating jobs. He said the department would also, for the
first time, honour the best multilingual matriculant at the end of this
year to demonstrate the importance attached to the concept.

theresas at Published on the Web by IOL on 2005-08-16 12:33:00

2. Tuks in talks to avoid protests
16/08/2005 22:24  - (SA),,2-7-1442_1754976,00.html

Pretoria - Consultation with students was underway to avert possible
protest action over tuition fees and language policy, the University of
Pretoria said on Tuesday. The dean of students, McGlory Speckman, said the
university was aware of media releases by student representative bodies of
their intention to "embark on a programme of rolling mass action".

Speckman said not all the protest marches had been approved by the
institution. "The university confirms its willingness to host general
information sessions... in order to ensure that students are well informed
and aware of all of the facts pertaining to the various issues before they
embark on mass action," Speckman said.

He said arrangements for further such sessions could be made with his
department. In a statement supplied by the university and attributed to
the SA Students' Congress, students complained of a lack of transformation
and "exorbitant" fee increases. According to the statement, the student
representative council was to meet the education department to air their
concerns and appeal for intervention at the university.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Cape Argus on
August 16, 2005

 Independent Online 2005. All rights reserved.

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