Afrikaans schools down by 580 in past few years
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.