No isiZulu, no money
MY OLD SCHOOL Durban High – was in the news recently over a case brought by a pupil’s mother who believed that her son, whose home language is isiZulu, was being taught “kitchen Zulu” at the school rather than at the higher level at which, she claimed, English and Afrikaans were being taught.
It emerged in the equality court the mother was in a financial dispute with the school over unpaid fees. Her stance was that she withheld the fees because the standard of her son’s lessons in isiZulu were unacceptable to her and she was thus not getting value for money.
Sapa reported that between 80% and 90% of the pupils in the same year were English mother tongue speakers and the English taught at the school was at the highest level possible. Afrikaans and isiZulu were offered as additional languages but Afrikaans, though at a level lower than English, was at a higher level than isiZulu. The school now offers isiZulu in grade 10 at the same level as it does Afrikaans but not at the level at which it offers English.
In its findings the court said there was no justification to discriminate against the isiZulu speakers and not the Afrikaans speakers in KwaZulu-Natal, where isiZulu predominates. However, it added it couldn’t find, as it had been asked to, that isiZulu be taught at the same level as English. Magistrate John Sanders said that while he supported transformation, this would impose an ideal that no school in the country meets.
The boy is now at a school in Gauteng, where he studies isiZulu as a second language.
All this is very sad when one remembers that 60 years ago many of the boys at DHS were from farms and grew up speaking isiZulu fluently.