[lg policy] South Africa:

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 18 21:49:47 UTC 2013

Language policy raises hackles

May 17 2013 at 03:21pm
By Mpume Madlala

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 [image: UKZN Howard Campus]

Independent Newspapers

Students are seen at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard College
campus. File photo: Gcina Ndwalane

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Durban - Apartheid under a different guise - that’s the damning description
some critics, parents and educationists have used for a new University of
KwaZulu-Natal requirement that students tackle a compulsory Zulu module.

The university announced this week that all students registering for
undergraduate degrees from next year will, unless they get exemption, be
required to pass or obtain a credit for a prescribed Zulu module before
they can graduate.

Among those angry at the “watershed” rule, which has been approved in
principle, was the chairman of the South Durban region of the KZN Parents’
Association, Vee Gani.

He said it was wrong for the university to suddenly force the language on

“Students must be afforded the opportunity to choose for themselves if they
want to take Zulu as a language. If they go ahead with this, it is going to
be a problem,” he said.

Gani said hearing of the university’s plans, he was reminded of the 1976
Soweto Uprising, where hundreds of pupils revolted against being forcefully
taught in Afrikaans.

“If you look at this, it is exactly the same thing, just that it is now
Zulu. The university is trying to do the very same thing many children died
fighting for, having a language forced on you,” he said.

People in this country have rights, and they include the freedom of choice,
Gani said.

“What the university is planning is apartheid of a different nature. I
resent this because in a country where there is democracy, no one has the
right to force anyone to do something,” Gani said.

The rule, said Gani, would lead to many students leaving the country and
studying overseas. “What is the university preparing our children for? They
can’t force the language down people’s throats,” he said.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA KZN chief executive
Anthony Pierce said no one could be compelled to adopt a language.

“We have a democratic constitution which allows people the freedom of
choice. This should be an individual’s choice, and it is not up to the
university to decide for people,” he said.

Pierce said he was not against promotion of indigenous languages, but said
the approach to which it was done should be looked at.

“Learning a new language is a process. People feel offended when you speak
their language incorrectly,” he said.

Pierce said this rule needed to be thought out carefully.

The deputy president of the National Teachers’ Union, Allen Thompson, said
that it was going to be tough teaching adults Zulu from scratch, and
compelling them to do so would make it still harder.

School Governing Bodies chairman Reginald Chiliza said he trusted the
decision by the university to have been well researched, but felt learning
a language should not be made compulsory.

Chiliza said as far as he was aware, the majority of people in the province
were Zulu speaking, but this did not mean Zulu should be compulsory for
everyone else,” he said.

mpume.madlala at inl.co.za


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