Policy to Boost African Languages at Schools Explained

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BYLINE: Michelle Jones Education Writer

POOR test results at school are largely due to poor use and understanding of language - often because pupils are not learning in their home language.

This is one of the reasons why African languages should be implemented incrementally at all schools over the next 12 years.

A proposed policy would see pupils having to learn a third, African, language - including Afrikaans.

This emerged during the recent joint meeting in Parliament of the portfolio committees on basic education and higher education and training .

According to Mathanzima Mweli, acting deputy director-general for curriculum, policy, monitoring and support of the Department of Basic Education, many schools did not offer an African language, thus "not fulfilling the constitutional mandate".

Mweli said that if African languages were not used for teaching and learning they might be lost - together with culture and heritage.

Results from the final matric exams and the annual national assessments for pupils in grades 3, 6 and 9 had proved this.

External, international testing, including Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, and Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality had also "confirmed this".

"Very little or nothing has been done by institutions, broader civil society or the sector to address this perennial problem.

"The time has now come to comprehensively deal with this challenge through the implementation of the language development framework. …