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‘Enough’ teachers for African languages

Date Released: Thu, 23 May 2013 14:59 +0200

There are enough African language teachers to introduce the teaching of an African language in all schools in grades R and 1 from next year, says the Department of Basic Education.

A spokesman for the department told the Cape Argus on Tuesday that the focus would be on schools that did not have an African language in their curriculum - like former model C schools.

“Given that the policy will focus on the minority of schools and will be implemented gradually, there are enough African language teachers.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that from next year all schools would have to teach an African language. The department told the Cape Argus this would be offered as another “first additional language” in grades R and 1.

English as a first additional language has already been introduced in Grade 1 in schools at which pupils switch to English as a medium of instruction from grades 3 or 4.

In schools where pupils were already doing an African language and either English or Afrikaans, they would learn another African language in grades R and 1 in 2014.

Many schools were already offering African languages as a home language in all grades and as a language of learning and teaching in lower grades.

While the department was confident there would be enough teachers, there were not yet enough textbooks in African languages. “A process is in place for publishers to allocate more financial resources to the development of all subjects and all languages.”

Professor Beverley Thaver, the deputy dean of postgraduate studies and research in the University of the Western Cape’s education faculty, said the introduction of an African language “was by its nature a significant social step”.

“While there are technical aspects that need to be considered - timetabling as well as the availability and accessibility of textbooks - these should not be construed as stumbling blocks. There are substantively positive effects in the long term.”

Language was a carrier of a cultural world, so early exposure to an African language would provide insights “into a world and imagination” from which children were currently excluded.

She said that given the fragmented nature of South African society, an African language would provide a gateway to an African world, and a means of building bonds of solidarity and cohesion.

Associate Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, the deputy dean of the Centre for Higher Education Development at UCT, said the plan was “long overdue”. Students studying courses such as health sciences, were already required to learn an African language.

Madiba said the problem with language policies was that often no proper planning went into them in terms of human and financial resources. School timetables were also already quite full.

Dr Michael le Cordeur, chairman of the Bachelor of Education programme at Stellenbosch University, said the policy was a good idea. The problem of enough teachers could be overcome if it was ensured that new graduates could teach these languages at primary school level.

By Ilse Fredericks

ilse.fredericks@inl.co.za

Picture Caption: From next year, all schools will have to teach an African language.

Picture by: Zanele Zulu

Source; Independent Newspapers

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