[lg policy] South Africa: Wise to be cautious in introducing third language teaching

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 7 15:02:04 UTC 2013

Wise to be cautious in introducing third language teaching
The Times Editorial | 07 August, 2013 00:51

  The Times Editorial: The decision by Education Minister Angie Motshekga
to phase in an African language as a compulsory subject for Grade R and
Grade 1 pupils as a pilot project before implementing the new policy in
full is eminently sensible.

The initial announcement that the compulsory third-language policy would be
implemented at schools from next year, though broadly welcomed in
principle, caused considerable trepidation among educators and teachers'

Barely five months before the start of the 2014 school year, schools were
still in the dark about where all the additional teachers would come from,
not to mention the workbooks.

Then there was the vexed question of fitting the third language into the
already jam-packed Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement. The CAPS
policy, which Motshekga introduced after the Outcomes-Based Education
debacle, has been widely praised by experts, though concerns have been
expressed about the high volume of work.

Motshekga yesterday laid to rest some of the concerns about the new
language policy when she announced that the teaching of a compulsory third
language would be piloted at 860 schools and that full implementation would
be deferred to 2015.

She said school governing bodies could use their discretion in choosing
which African language to introduce in Grade R and Grade 1, that Afrikaans
fell within the category of indigenous languages, and that provincial
demographics would indicate which additional languages should be taught.

Steps were being taken, she said, to strengthen the quality of English
teaching - a critical factor at matric level.

Motshekga, who was pilloried because of the Limpopo textbooks scandal,
seems to be getting the language policy right - even if her deadline for
its full implementation is a little optimistic.


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