SA phases in African language learning


31 May 2013

The Cabinet this week welcomed the Department of Education’s move to start phasing in the learning of an African language at South Africa’s schools, saying it would go a long way towards promoting social cohesion and nation-building.

The department recently announced it was preparing for the introduction of African languages as an additional language subject at all schools in 2014 by phasing it in in selected schools in each province this year.

The implementation will require that all learners complete Grade 9 having learnt an African language for at least one phase.

“All schools that do not have an African language as a language in their school language policy at all, will introduce incrementally from 2014 in Grade R and 1, the learning of an African language as another first additional language,” the department said in a statement.

In schools where learners are already studying one African language and either English or Afrikaans, learners will learn another African language in Grade R and 1 in 2014.

According to the department, the language selections made by school governing bodies often failed to promote the African languages of learners, forcing them to learn English and Afrikaans instead.

“For our learners who do not speak an African language, many are still leaving the schooling system having never been taught an African language.

“This must have huge implications for the constitutional and social goal of promoting social cohesion and nation-building in all our citizens.”

Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the government encouraged all South Africans to learn an indigenous language, as this would promote multilingualism and foster nation-building.