South Africa: Language freedom in schools on cards

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Jan 2 19:38:38 UTC 2009

Language freedom in schools on cards


THE statutory body responsible for protecting language rights wants
teachers and school governing bodies to stop compromising the freedom
of pupils to choose their language of tuition. Pan South African
Languages Board (Pansalb) chief executive officer Ntombenhle Nkosi
said almost 14 years into the new dispensation, teachers and SGB
members at the majority of former Model C schools were imposing
English as a first language. "The language and education policies
allow for a child to choose a home, first additional and second
additional languages of their choice.

"However, schools impose languages on pupils. For example, at an
English school, pupils are forced to choose English as a first
language, Afrikaans as a first additional language and their mother
tongue as a second additional language." She said the decision by the
teachers and SGB members to compromise the use of mother tongues had a
knock-on effect at tertiary institutions. "This has resulted in a poor
standard of language use by students at universities."

Nkosi won a court battle when the Durban equality court ruled as
unfair discrimination the failure by Durban High School to offer
proper Zulu lessons to its Zulu-speaking pupils in September. Nkosi,
whose son was a pupil at the school, said she wanted all schools to
pull up their socks. She added that Pansalb would engage higher
education institutions on the language of teaching, funding of African
languages and the teaching of indigenous languages in English. Last
week Pansalb met Education Minister Naledi Pandor to discuss the
department's undertaking to review legislation regarding language in
education policy.

The issues included:

The status of the implementation of multilingualism at institutions of
higher learning.

The decline in the teaching and learning of African studies and
African languages.

The drop in producing African language teachers and lecturers.

Nkosi said Pansalb would reinforce its monitoring of the
implementation of the Language in Education Policy in schools by also
coming up with strategies from officials in the department of
education. The education department was also reviewing legislation
that dealt with language in education. Next year, a joint language
symposium is set to be held by the department and Pansalb to explore
more programmes to entrench multilingualism in all layers of

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list