Schools would like to teach African languages

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu May 19 13:00:44 UTC 2005

>>From the Pretoria News,

Schools would like to teach African languages
May 19, 2005

  By Tsabeng Nthite

Schools in the Tshwane area support Education Minister Naledi Pandor's
efforts to promote African indigenous languages. Pandor's recent comments
about the overhauling of the education system, particularly the teaching
of languages, have sparked debate among parents, teachers and academics.
She said in Parliament there was a need to develop a language policy "that
vigorously and effectively promotes African indigenous languages in all
our schools".

City schools contacted by the Pretoria News said they supported the idea
and even though some schools do not offer classes in indigenous languages,
they would like to implement such a programme. Steven Hearne, principal of
Horskool Gerrit Maritz, gave the idea the thumbs-up, but said the school
did not have anyone qualified to teach indigenous languages. "We are a
parallel-medium school with many black pupils and I believe that it would
be good for all pupils to learn other languages apart from English and
Afrikaans," Hearne said.

Horskool Tuine principal Jackie Tredoux agrees with Pandor's proposed
policy. Tredoux, who can speak isiZulu and Sesotho, is interested in
learning yet another language. Tredoux would like English to retain its
compulsory status in schools, but said the promotion of indigenous African
languages was "a great idea and one that should be implemented by all
means possible".

A number of schools have already introduced courses in indigenous
languages. Ronel Nel, the public relations officer of Horskool Die
Wilgers, said the school offered courses in Sepedi and was positive that
it should prove successful in other schools as well. Boysie Madonsela,
principal of Siphamadla Primary School in Soshanguve, said there was a
need for a policy on the promotion of indigenous languages.

All languages were equal and all deserved a chance to be implemented in
the education system, he said. Madonsela said English should remain the
main medium of instruction, but other languages also needed attention as
pupils "are slowly drifting away from their roots". "It is imperative that
all languages be given a chance," he said.

Elizabeth Mothwa, the head of the department of languages at Hlomapanang
Secondary School, endorsed this view.

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