[lg policy] South Africa: Learners prefer home language over Afrikaans

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Jun 8 10:56:12 EDT 2017

 Learners prefer home language over Afrikaans

Wednesday 7 June 2017 14:24

Lebo Tshangela
[image: Many learners say Afrikaans is difficult, confusing and have
expressed that it is not a language they are used to.]

Many learners say Afrikaans is difficult, confusing and have expressed that
it is not a language they are used to.(SABC)

   - Afrikaans
   - Model C schools
   - Youth Month
   - Elijah Mhlanga
   - Lebo Tshangela
   - Thabile Mbatha-Ngubane

The majority of learners in former Model C schools that SABC Digital News
visited in Johannesburg are opposed to taking Afrikaans
a subject, they prefer their home language instead.

This as South Africa commemorates the 41 years since the 1976 Soweto
Uprisings where pupils protested against Afrikaans as the medium of

We spoke to pupils from Roosevelt, Vorentoe, Coronation, Northcliff and
Randpark Ridge high schools. They are amongst 2 212 out of 3 780 former
Model C schools that still do not offer an African language, just English
and Afrikaans.

The majority of the learners say they are not happy with the language
choice offered at their schools and would rather have an option to learn
their home languages instead of Afrikaans.

Some say Afrikaans is difficult, confusing and have expressed that it is
not a language they are used to. One learner from Vorentoe High says, “I
don’t get it why we do Afrikaans, children fail. We want it to be changed.”

Another from Roosevelt High says, “No Afrikaans must fall.”

While others say, “We are a mixed race, we should learn African languages.
We are forced to learn something we are not going to use.”

Few supported the schools language policy saying that the languages are
universal. One pupil says, “I enjoy Afrikaans, it is good to know a lot of

None of learners were opposed to learning English, however.

I don’t get why they to study Afrikaans at the end of the day where will
they speak Afrikaans

Parents of learners attending former Model C schools also shared the same
sentiments as the learners. One parent says she does not agree with her
daughter’s school language policy describing it as apartheid and

“My child is struggling, I was told if she fails she is going to fail the
year. I then went to school to fight. It’s nonsense because now they want
to introduce mandarin, why not an African language first? It’s an unfair
advantage for non-Afrikaans speaking children, we are back to apartheid.”

Another parent says,” I don’t get why they study Afrikaans, at the end of
the day where will they speak Afrikaans? If you fail Afrikaans, you fail
the year.”

However, some parents do not have a problems. "A lot of workplaces want
people that are bilingual," says one parent.

Basic Education Department Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says, "From 2014, we
piloted the introduction of African languages in our schools. In 2015 and
this year, we have been rolling out that particular initiative to tell
schools to offer our African languages."

Some of the reasons cited by Mhlanga for the slow implementation of the
Incremental Introduction of African Language programme (IIAL) are: shortage
of teachers, parents not voting for the right School Governing Body
members, agreement on which African  language to teach and resistance by
some stakeholders.

The IIAL is a priority programme aimed at promoting some aspects of social
cohesion in the society. The programme was piloted in Grades 1-2 in 264
schools in 2014 and 2015 across all provinces. In 2016, the IIAL was
implemented in 842 schools.

The 2017 IIAL target is set at 50%, which translates to 1 779 schools.
Currently there are 978 schools that are implementing it.
IIAL performance by province
Create pie charts

Meanwhile, Associate Professor at University of Zululand's department of
Early Childhood Education, Prof. Thabile Mbatha-Ngubane has refuted
suggestions that there are not enough teachers to teach African languages.

“I do not think the reason that there is a shortage of teacher’s holds
water. Institutions of higher learning especially teachers being trained do
have programs for teaching these students,” says Mbatha-Ngubane.

“In high schools, we do have specialisation of teachers to teach a home
language, it is not a strong enough reason. They can never say there are no
English teachers. There is a lack of commitment to the language policy.”

Mbatha-Ngubane says the department is passing the buck regarding their
statement  that parents do not appoint the right people to sit on the
School Governing Bodies to push for African languages. “The department must
educate parents and lead the way,” she adds.


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