[lg policy] South Africa: Language policy ‘discriminates’
hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 25 16:22:32 UTC 2009
Language policy ‘discriminates’
ERNEST MABUZA Published: 2009/06/24 06:27:57 AM
THE governing body’s preservation of the Afrikaans language policy at
Hoërskool Ermelo at all costs demonstrated that it intended to
preserve the school exclusively for Afrikaners, head of the Mpumalanga
education department Monwabisi Tywakadi has said in his application to
the Constitutional Court.
The department has appealed against a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment
in March that the governing body, and not the education department,
had exclusive power to determine the language policy of an existing
school. In January 2007 the school’s governing body refused to change
its language policy to accommodate 27 pupils who wanted to be taught
in English. The head of department withdrew the function of
determining the language policy from the governing body.
The governing body went to the North Gauteng High Court in September
2007 to review the head of department’s decision. Its application was
dismissed in the high court but the appeal court upheld the appeal.
The matter is to be heard in the Constitutional Court in August. In
its written argument to the Constitutional Court filed last week, the
department said the language policy of the school was determined 93
years ago and remained fixed as exclusively Afrikaans up to 2007, when
it was changed by the interim committee appointed by the department.
The department said that on several occasions the school governing
body had refused to change the language policy from Afrikaans to
“We submit that the refusal by the governing body of the school,
despite several endeavours to change the language policy so as to be
inclusive of other language groupings, and the persistence to retain
Afrikaans medium of instruction as an exclusive language policy at the
school, has a direct impact on the provisions of … the constitution
which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of language.
“We submit, despite the denial by the respondents, that the
preservation of Afrikaans language policy at the school at all costs
by the governing body demonstrates that the governing body intends to
preserve the school exclusively for Afrikaners. This effectively
amounts to discrimination directly or indirectly on the grounds of
language and accordingly this raises a constitutional issue,” the
department’s advocates, Bantubonke Tokota SC, Themba Skosana and
Zinzile Matebese, said in their argument.
They said that clinging to the Afrikaans language policy, regardless
of the social changes in the country, was aimed at maintaining
Afrikaans domination in pursuit of racial practices. “The (school
governing body), through the language policy, seeks to retain the
Afrikaans domination in the school and to preserve better facilities
for Afrikaans speaking learners only, irrespective of the demands of
the changing society which the school was meant to serve,” they said.
They said the school was known for 100% pass rates at grade 12 level
and said the reason for this achievement was mainly because of the
fact that there were sufficient facilities for the learners,
sufficient laboratories and other equipment for proper education. They
said the state had a duty to create access to, as far as was
practicable, basic education for everyone. This could be achieved by,
among others, the efficient utilisation of the existing and available
mabuzae at bdfm.co.za
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