New language policy on the cards for schools

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education Department is implementing a programme where primary school children in government schools will have to learn an indigenous African language.

The department said it is ready to implement the policy from next year following public consultation and will begin with Grade R and Grade 1 pupils.

This means pupils who only speak English and Afrikaans will have to learn to speak an African language.

According to department spokesman Panyaza Lisufi, they started planning the programme three years ago.

“Social cohesion is the reason we have started the programme. You can’t have South Africans having a translator between them when speaking," said Lisufi.

"It is for unity in our country.”

Last week, the University of KZN announced that all first-year students will have to study isiZulu as part of their degrees.

Despite concerns from educational experts, the department insists implementation won’t be a problem as there are enough African-language teachers.

"Parents will choose which language to take in the school -- in KZN it could be isiZulu and in the Eastern Cape isiXhosa," said Lisufi.

"However, Gauteng would have more difficulty as there are many languages and that is where intervention by parents comes in."

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