Afrikaans schools down by 580 in past few years

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

THE DE­CLINE in the num­ber of Afrikaans-only schools since about 2000 has put the fu­ture of Afrikaans back in the spot­light.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Afrikaans pri­vate schools and the for­ma­tion of schools for mother-tongue ed­u­ca­tion are now be­ing mooted.

This comes af­ter Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga said in a writ­ten par­lia­men­tary re­ply that the num­ber of Afrikaans-only schools – the ma­jor­ity of them in the West­ern Cape and North­ern Cape – de­creased from 1 814 in 2002 to 1 234 in 2016.

“The ma­jor de­crease took place in 2010, when the num­ber of Afrikaans-medium schools dropped by 158,” Mot­shekga said.

She was replying to ques­tions by the Free­dom Front Plus’s An­ton Al­berts, who wanted to know if Afrikaans-only schools had in­creased since 1994.

Mot­shekga said the only in­crease in the num­ber of Afrikaans schools had oc­curred be­tween 2005 and 2008.

“The rest of the years recorded in­di­cate a de­crease,” the min­is­ter pointed out.

She at­trib­uted the de­cline to the change in de­mo­graph­ics and the de­cline in Afrikaans, as a grow­ing num­ber of pupils in­di­cated a pref­er­ence for English.

“De­clin­ing num­bers of Afrikaanss­peak­ing learn­ers force schools to re­vert to par­al­lel-medium (English/ Afrikaans) schools,” Mot­shekga said.

Flip Buys of Sol­i­dar­ity said pupils mi­grated be­tween schools be­cause of the con­ver­sion of some to dou­blemedium schools.

“A ma­jor rea­son for the de­cline in the num­ber of schools can be found in the fact that no new schools are be­ing built and many ex­ist­ing schools are be­ing ne­glected or have fallen into dis­use,” Buys added.

Al­berts said the de­cline in the num­ber of Afrikaans schools was proof that the lan­guage was un­der “vi­cious” at­tack by the ANC gov­ern­ment.

He dis­missed Mot­shekga’s ex­pla­na­tions, say­ing his party had not ob­served a de­crease in the num­ber of Afrikaans pupils.

“What is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing is that Afrikaans is de­lib­er­ately and sys­tem­at­i­cally be­ing elim­i­nated from schools.”

The turn­ing of Afrikaans schools into English or dual-medium schools has sparked out­rage among some Afrikaans groups, which are cry­ing foul that their lan­guage is be­ing tar­geted.

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