Cape Times

Teaching African languages ‘not prioritise­d’

- Francesca Villette

THE Western Cape was making the slowest progress in the country in offering indigenous African languages to pupils, the Department of Basic Education said as it forges ahead with plans to preserve heritage and cultures.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently told the portfolio committee that only 1% of the province’s schools were targeted this year for the implementa­tion of the Incrementa­l Introducti­on of African Languages Strategy.

The department launched the strategy five years ago when it found 3 558 schools nationally were not offering African languages – the Western Cape was the worst offender with 817 schools.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s spokespers­on, Jessica Shelver, yesterday said the province could not fund the strategy because of budgetary constraint­s. Currently, 341 of 1 447 schools in the Western Cape offered an African Language, and Xhosa was offered in 24% of schools, Shelver said.

“Due to severe budgetary constraint­s, the Western Cape Education Department will only be able to continue the roll-out of the project in the 10 pilot schools for now. Unfortunat­ely, the Department of Basic Education is not providing funding to support the strategy.

“There is also a shortage of qualified Xhosa language teachers in the province,” Shelver said.

Other provinces with schools not offering an African language are Gauteng, with 682 schools; KwaZuluNat­al with 686; Eastern Cape with 508; North West with 260, Mpumalanga with 184, Free State with 147, and Limpopo with 245.

The Northern Cape and Free State Provinces are leading the pack, offering African languages at 90% and 89% of their schools respective­ly.

SA Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said it seemed the provincial education department was not serious about promoting indigenous languages, which was “disappoint­ing”.

Motshekga said the initiative aimed to develop African languages to help preserve heritage and cultures.

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