South Africa: Language policy not yet off the ground

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Aug 4 12:14:43 UTC 2006

Language policy not yet off the ground: Pandor

CAPE TOWN  South Africas
language education policy has after nine years not yet been put into
effect convincingly, Education Minister Naledi Pandor said on Monday. The
policy, adopted in 1997 has not been implemented convincingly up to this
point, Naledi told a Language Colloquium in Cape Town. Resources have not
been made available in amounts that would give effect to the policy. She
said the departments language education policy sought to achieve a number
of important goals.

Firstly, it encouraged use of the mother tongue as a preferred language of
teaching. It was, in the second place, aimed at teaching young people a
language other than their mother tongue. Thirdly, young people should have
the ability to communicate in a third indigenous language. Pandor said the
success of the policy depended on how well mother-tongue education was
managed. The policy was not aimed at denying children the opportunity to
learn English or any other second language.

Rather, it is empowering through the assertion that language-learning
opportunities must be made available in all the official languages of
South Africa. Pandor said the main obstacle to promoting mother-tongue
learning was parent resistance since they preferred their children to be
taught in English. The obstacle that this preference creates is compounded
by the fact that not enough teachers have been adequately prepared to
teach in English. She said there was also evidence that children not
taught in their mother-tongue experienced schooling difficulties.

Pandor expressed the hope that the Language Colloquium would assist the
department in evaluating initiatives and in learning from practice
elsewhere. The aim of the colloquium is to discuss policy and practice
regarding language in education.Provincial education MECs, department
heads, academics and representatives of other government departments
attended the colloquium.

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at 8/4/2006 2:11:34 PM,1,22

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