[lg policy] The ANC Has Failed To Decolonise Our Colonial Education System

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Jan 24 10:50:19 EST 2018


 The ANC Has Failed To Decolonise Our Colonial Education System Afrikaans
remains a colonial vestige in certain schools and institutions of higher
learning.

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24/01/2018 15:07 SAST | *Updated* 2 hours ago
Mujahid Safodien/ AFP/ Getty Images

Sometimes the ANC, which has been governing the country since 1994, acts
like a civil society organisation. A quintessence in this regard is its
protest outside Höerskool Overvaal in Vereeniging over a language policy.

AFP/Getty Images Supporters of the South African ruling party African
National Congress (ANC) demonstrate against the language and admission
policies outside the Höerskool Overvaal school on January 19, 2018 in
Vereeniging, South Africa.

The court has found that the school, which uses Afrikaans as a medium of
instruction, does not have the capacity to accommodate 55 English-speaking
pupils.

As a governing party, the ANC should develop a universal language policy to
address institutional racism in our schools and institutions of higher
learning in order to cultivate a new culture of multiracialism. As Kenyan
academic Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o says
<https://timrdoc.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/ngugi-wa-thiongo-the-language-of-african-literature-from-decolonising-the-mind/>:
"The choice of language and the use to which language is put is central to
a people's definition of themselves in relation to their natural and social
environment, indeed in relation to the entire universe."

In cultivating a particular culture, as Wa Thiong'o points out, language
serves "as an image-forming agent in the mind of a child".

To be fair to the ANC, addressing institutional racism is a collective
responsibility, although it carries more responsibility as the governing
party. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which started the protest, has
also failed to develop a language policy to address institutional racism in
our schools and institutions of higher education.

Any party in Parliament can develop a piece of legislation. Not long ago,
the national assembly (NA) passed the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, proposed
and developed by Cheryllyn Dudley, who is an African Christian Democratic
Party (ACDP) MP. The historic bill seeks to provide for parental leave,
adoption leave, and commissioning parental leave.

The EFF should know that anarchism is not a sustainable means to address
racism in all its forms. Concurrently, it should come up with legislative
measures to address racism.

In a country with eleven official languages, English should be a
monolingual medium of instruction.

Afrikaans remains a colonial vestige in certain schools and institutions of
higher learning. Learning for non-Afrikaans-speaking pupils at these
institutions, according to Wa Thiong'o, becomes just "a cerebral activity
and not an emotionally felt experience".

In essence, the ANC has failed to decolonise our colonial system of
education. In contrast to students' demand for decolonised higher
education, decolonisation should start at a primary-school level with an
inclusionary language policy, a phenomenon known as "catching them young".

AFP/Getty Images Members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union
(SADTU) dance as they demonstrate outside Höerskool Overvaal school against
the school's language and admission policies, on January 22, 2018 in
Vereeniging, south of Johannesburg.

In South Africa, it should start with the abolition of Afrikaans as a
medium of instruction in our schools and other institutions of higher
learning. Afrikaans should assume the same status as other indigenous
languages. In a country with eleven official languages, English should be a
monolingual medium of instruction.

The language policy at Höerskool Overvaal also brings to light the lack of
confidence in our township schools by parents of the 55 English-speaking
pupils. In search of the best education, some black parents take their
children to white schools. Others do so with an impolitic belief that
English is a measure of intelligence.

More than anything else, the protest outside Höerskool Overvaal and other
racially divisive narratives, such as farm murders, bring to light a
leadership vacuum – that is, an absence of a national unifier in the mould
of Nelson Mandela. Neither President Jacob Zuma nor his ANC successor,
Cyril Ramaphosa, is that leader – not by a long shot.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has what it takes to play the
role of a national unifier -- more so, given that he leads a racially
diverse party. However, he seems not to read the need to occupy the
leadership vacuum.

*Molifi Tshabalala is an independent political analyst*


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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