GREATER recognition urgently needs to be given to mother tongue instruction in South Africa’s education system to avoid negative consequences for the country’s children and its indigenous languages, the Afrikanerbond said on Sunday.
“It is a step in the right direction to allow matriculants in the Eastern Cape to write exams in isiXhosa – their mother tongue; part of the motivation is to increase the pass rate,” Afrikanerbond chief secretary Jan Bosman said in a statement.
As early as 2010, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga acknowledged that poor English skills was a major factor behind the miserable 2009 matric results, that most school pupils, including matriculants, had to study in English despite it not being their home language, and that pupils whose first language was not English experienced difficulty articulating themselves properly.
“Is the fact that matriculants in the Eastern Cape are now allowed to write exams in their mother tongue a recognition and admission that government’s policy to enforce English has failed? The continued gambling with the teaching of South African students will, however, continue with the insistence on English as medium of instruction. In a country with 11 official languages this policy is illogical and matric results show that the majority of pupils cannot cope with instruction in English,” Bosman said.
Research had repeatedly proven that “forced unfamiliar language teaching” caused widespread illiteracy. Poor performance in literacy, maths, and science was directly related to premature interruption of the mother tongue as medium of instruction.
“It is imperative that government should revisit mother tongue education for all South Africans. Evidence has proven over and over again that language leads to achievement. Unfortunately, this principle has been forsaken and the language achievement of South Africa’s school population [is] extremely weak. Every year it is argued that poor education and the need for mother-tongue education is at the root of our education problem,” Bosman said.
The Afrikanerbond had long supported mother tongue education from Grade 1 to Grade 12. To force English on pupils in the education system was not the answer, and the poor matric results showed this. To allow matric pupils to write exams in their mother tongue was a start, but could not be the only answer.
“The fact of the matter is that if government does not take immediate steps to create the conditions for the development and use of all of our official languages, as required by section 6 (5) (a) of the Constitution, the prospects for our indigenous languages – and for the future education of children from the affected language groups – would be extremely negative. Above all, greater recognition must be given to the role of mother tongue [instruction] in our education system,” Bosman said.
(SOURCE: African News Agency (ANA))