South Africa: Judgment in ‘kitchen Zulu’ case

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Sep 30 15:00:17 UTC 2008

Judgment in 'kitchen Zulu' case
Sapa Published:Sep 30, 2008

A Durban school did discriminate against its isiZulu-speaking pupils
by offering Afrikaans at a higher grade than isiZulu in 2007, the
Equality Court in Durban found today. The mother of a pupil at Durban
High School had complained that her son was being taught "kitchen
Zulu" at the school. She believed it would be disadvantageous for him
culturally and socially and that the language was being subjugated to
English and Afrikaans. She had expected him to be taught isiZulu at
the same level as English and Afrikaans but the court heard that
isiZulu and Afrikaans were taught at lower levels.

There were also fewer isiZulu lessons on the timetable. Between 80 to
90 percent of pupils in that year were English mother tongue speakers
and the English taught at the school was at the highest level
possible. Afrikaans and isiZulu were offered as additional languages,
but Afrikaans, though at a lower level than English, was at a higher
level than isiZulu. The court found that there was no justification to
discriminate against the isiZulu speakers, and not the Afrikaans
speakers in KwaZulu-Natal where isiZulu is the prevalent language.

The court had been asked to find that isiZulu be taught at the same
level of English, but Magistrate John Sanders said that while the
court supported transformation, this would impose an ideal that no
school in the country meets and the finding would have no value.
Expressing his personal views, magistrate Sanders said the state
needed to provide resources to be able to provide isiZulu at the
higher level at every school and that national legislation should also
be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.

The school, however, introduced a new language policy in 2008 with an
isiZulu language teacher and the option in grade 10 to take either
isiZulu or Afrikaans as an additional language. The boy has since been
moved to another English medium school in Gauteng where he is doing
isiZulu as a second language which his mother believes is a
compromise. The row started when his mother would not pay outstanding
fees when he left because she believed she was not getting value for
her money.

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