[lg policy] South Africa: Plea to teach Eastern [i.e. South Asian] languages

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 16 18:25:40 UTC 2011

Plea to teach Eastern languages
Jan 15, 2011 11:11 PM | By TENESHIA NAIDOO


Verulam and Tongaat teachers have asked the national department of
education to consider incorporating Eastern languages as a recognised
subject in the school curriculum.  About 30 teachers from schools in
the Verulam and Tongaat areas submitted the request as a comment on
the curriculum assessment policy late last year.

Tongaat areas submitted the request as a comment on the curriculum
assessment policy late last year. The national education department
invited comments from education stakeholders about curriculum changes
proposed in the policy. Changes are expected to be implemented in
2012. In their submissions, teachers advocated a radical change in the
syllabus and requested that the department include an optional third
language and introduce it to pupils as early as grade 1 in 2012.

Vishnu Naidoo, principal of Buffelsdale Secondary in Tongaat, said
according to the department's regulations, pupils have to study two
languages. However, he said they can opt for a third language as part
of their syllabus, provided it is one of the country's official
Naidoo said if a language is not one of the official languages, it is
considered an extracurricular subject and taught after school hours.

"We are arguing that there should be a flexible curriculum which
allows for a third language, such as one of the Eastern languages, to
be taught as part of the curriculum. This should be introduced in
grade 1, provided that there are sufficient numbers for the subjects."

Buffelsdale Secondary teaches Hindi, Tamil and Telegu as
extra-curricular subjects.

The proposal submitted to the department argued that: "The third
language must be treated as a subject. We know there will be a lot of
debate around this issue. The third language can be outside of the
official languages. This will allow for the Eastern languages to be

"If pupils are not opting for the third language, then allow them to
do religious or cultural studies."

Naidoo said if pupils chose another language, it would make them more
versatile and bridge the communication divide if pupils chose to leave
the country.

He said if Eastern languages were introduced into the syllabus it
would be a step forward in preserving South African Indian culture.

"We need to preserve our culture. We are not asking that Eastern
languages be official languages but that it be part of the curriculum.
We are losing our culture and in the next 50 years we could lose it
completely. But by introducing some of the languages in our schools,
we could preserve our culture."

A department spokesman said they were evaluating all submissions.

The principal and founder of Westville Hindu Primary School, Bisraam
Rambilass, said he fully supported the request made by the teachers.

"While you may not be able to do this at every school, what we can do,
is identify a particular school in a community which is willing to
teach Eastern languages. It would be difficult to demand that a
teacher taught Eastern languages in every public school."

-- http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/article852676.ece/Plea-to-teach-Eastern-languages
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