South Africa: Pandor's 'crusade for inclusion'

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Mar 14 13:07:28 UTC 2007

Pandor's 'crusade for inclusion'

the Teacher reporter  13 March 2007 10:59

Education Minister Naledi Pandor has said she strongly supports the use of
Afrikaans and other indigenous languages as the medium of instruction in
schools. She was reacting to a DA media release in which she was accused
of leading an ideological crusade against Afrikaans and a Freedom Front
media release, which claimed it was now quite clear that the government
wants to take control of every single school in South Africa. A full bench
of the Pretoria High Court ordered the admission of 113 grade eight
learners, who want to be taught in English, to Ermelo High School, turning
a formerly Afrikaans-medium school into a parallel-medium one. In late
January the Mpumalanga education department relieved the school governing
body at Ermelo High School of its power to determine its language policy
and appointed a committee to exercise this function. The committee decided
the school had to admit English-speaking learners and to educate them in
their language of choice.

On February 2 the school was granted an interim interdict that suspended
the new language policy, pending an application to review the Mpumalanga
departments decision to relieve the school governing body of its power to
determine language policy. On February 12 Pandor launched an urgent
application not only to rescind the interim interdict, but also to be
joined as a party in the review application. She argued that a provincial
education department has the right to withdraw the functions of a schools
governing body if that school unreasonably refused to admit pupils
requesting instruction in the language of their choice.

In response to the Freedom Front, Pandor said: The FF+ clearly does not
care for all children; they want 113 children to be denied access to
school. The government has an obligation to provide school places for
learners. Ermelo High is half full. Language cannot be used to deny
children access to education. She said there has been a trend over the
past five years for more and more Afrikaners to choose to educate their
children in English. In response to the DA, Pandor said: If it is
ideological to provide access to schools for schoolchildren, then I am
happy to be called an ideologue.  I have always supported the use of
mother-tongue education in our schools, especially in the foundation
phase. I have always supported the promotion of indigenous languages in
our schools.

She said the issue is not one of language, but an issue of access to
education ... If there is a crusade that I have mounted in our schools, it
is a crusade for inclusion rather than exclusion.


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