[lg policy] South Africa: African languages to be compulsory for all pupils

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 13 13:51:09 UTC 2013

 African languages to be compulsory for all pupils

June 12 2013 at 01:55pm
By Michelle Jones



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Cape Town - An African language - including Afrikaans - will be compulsory
for all pupils until matric, according to a new policy which could be
implemented at all schools from as early as next year.

The plan, which will be implemented incrementally until 2025, will see all
pupils learning three languages.

For the first time, Afrikaans has been included as an African language.
Previously the Department of Basic Education referred to African languages,
English and Afrikaans.

The portfolio committees on basic education and higher education and
training held a joint meeting on Tuesday in Parliament about the draft
policy, which planned to make it compulsory for Grade R and Grade 1 pupils
to learn a third, African language.

Pupils are currently required to learn two languages - their home language
and an additional language.

Mathanzima Mweli, acting deputy director-general for curriculum, policy,
monitoring and support, said, “The major change is that African languages
will be offered at all schools offering Grade R and Grade 1.”

He attributed this to the “changing profile of learner population” at

Mweli said the African language, which would include Xitsonga, any Nguni
language, a Sotho language, Tshivenda or Afrikaans, would have to be
learned at a first additional language level.

Mweli said members of the public would be called to comment on the draft
policy in a month’s time.

Addressing concerns that there would not be sufficient teachers, Mweli said
audits of teachers had been conducted in all provinces.

“We have the teachers to implement this policy.”

He said there was concern about whether there would be sufficient teachers
as the policy was upscaled to Grade 12, but engagements were taking place
with the Higher Education and Training Department to ensure teachers were

Mweli also said they realised additional time would have to be added to the
school day and were discussing this with the education labour relations

The portfolio committees welcomed the plan by the Department of Basic
Education to incrementally implement the use of African languages in all
South African schools.

Basic education committee chairwoman Hope Malgas expressed appreciation
that the “long overdue” step had finally been taken.

The committee on Tuesday expressed reservations about whether Afrikaans
would not dominate the choice as a first additional language.

It had also expressed concerns about the department’s readiness to
implement the programme by next year.

Malgas said the committee would monitor the department’s progress on the
plan, and that the department would have to come back later in the year to
give an update on its readiness.

The higher education and training committee chairman, Ishmael Malale,
expressed his appreciation that this would be done to improve the state of
education and to elevate indigenous languages in South Africa.

The Cape Times reported last month that primary school pupils in Grade R
and Grade 1 would have to learn an African language as a first additional

Reasons given were to “promote multilingualism” and foster “social

Educationists had raised concerns including fitting an additional language
into the school timetable and the availability of trained teachers.

The department said it would prepare for “full-scale implementation” by
phasing in the policy at selected schools in each of the provinces this

michelle.jones at inl.co.za


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