The Citizen (KZN)

Afrikaner youth say no to Bela Bill

ATTACK ON MOTHER TONGUE EDUCATION Young AfriForum members march to demand scrapping.

- Marizka Coetzer – marizkac@citizen.co.za

The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (Bela) has left young Afrikaans people hot under the collar, according to AfriForum’s youth spokespers­on, Louis Boshoff.

He was among protesters who went to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum that appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the Bela Bill.

“Currently, we still have the privilege, or until recently had the privilege, of being taught in our mother language and we would like to see our children also one day granted that privilege.

“A number of organisati­ons and individual­s have already expressed their opposition to the Bela Bill, but today’s protest was an indication that this Bill will not only affect anonymous or faceless people, but also the youth of the present and future generation­s. The youth’s voice will not be muted – that is why the president must pay attention now.”

Boshoff said the memorandum argued that the Bill was a direct attack on mother language education in general and an indirect attack on Afrikaans as a language of instructio­n.

He said the Bill contained clauses that strip school governing bodies of the power to determine a language policy. It also seeks to regulate home schooling and gives the education minister wide-ranging powers to do so.

That, he said, will make it impossible for parents to teach their children at home, if the provincial department of education has not granted prior permission.

Boshoff said they believe there should be more mother language education, instead of reducing the languages taught to one.

A passerby, Peter Mahlangu, saw the group of AfriForum Youth activists and said it was “essential for people to stand up for their rights”. He said heritage persevered at an institutio­nal level, where youth were groomed with culture and taught the dos and don’ts. “If the government starts with the Afrikaners, next it will be somebody else or another minority group. The Afrikaners have the right to practice and preserve their culture,” he said.

Political analyst Piet Croucamp said in one aspect AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel was right: there was no doubt that this would be used as a political tool against the Afrikaans cause.

“It must also be said that language policies were often used to exclude black children. We, as parents, and children and schools are now caught between a rock and a hard place. We’re the rational minds that would consider how to be reasonable and what is in the best interest of everybody.”

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