South Africa: Durban school under fire for language policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jan 19 15:40:44 UTC 2008

Durban school under fire for language policy
January 17, 2008, 17:15

A top Durban school is facing a legal challenge over its language
policy. Durban High School has come under fire for not allowing its
black students to study their home language at an advanced level. CEO
of the Pan South African Language Board (Pansalb), Ntombenhle Nkosi,
says she's taking the school to the Equality Court - on behalf of her
son - for misinterpreting the National Education Policy. Nkosi says
her then grade eight son had not been given the right to choose the
level of instruction for isiZulu or Afrikaans as set down by the
National Curriculum for Languages. Nkosi says this could have a
negative ripple effect on learners.
"This problem is so huge in that when the children reach university,
they won't choose our languages at a higher level because they have
been taught these languages at a very simplistic level," says Nkosi.

Racial segregation?

The school - which is an English medium institution - has now changed
its language policy on a trial basis. They are now offering isiZulu
and Afrikaans as a second language for grade eights only. However,
there are concerns that this could result in racial segregation among
the learners. "We didn't want to create a class which is only for
isiZulu speakers because in grade eight and nine, all the boys stay in
one class. So, if you do isiZulu as a group, you do every subject as a
group, which means that unfortunately we would have racially
segregated classes," says Durban High School principal, Dave Magner.
However, the complainant says this is insufficient. The case is set to
be of national importance concerning the monitoring of the National
Education Policy on Languages at schools. Experts say it could force
schools to readdress the standards at which they teach additional


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