The FW de Klerk Foundation has taken note, with shock and disappointment, of the letter and annexure of Prof Wim De Villiers to the Senate of the University of Stellenbosch. The letter makes it clear that if the Rector's proposals are approved by the University Council on 30 November 2015, Afrikaans will no longer have an equal position with English at the University of Stellenbosch.
This International Mother Tongue Day (Friday, 21 February 2014), the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign will be highlighting the importance of reading and sharing stories with children in their mother tongue languages through its weekly literacy supplement and a special Twitter drive.
The campaign is calling on South Africans to share at least one, or all of their tweets, in their home languages on 21 February with some of South Africa’s best-loved celebs and thought leaders who are already pledging to lead the way.
In this society which urgently needs to educate citizens to be articulate and literate, there is something simple but profound we can all do – we can tell and read stories to children. Far from being a luxury, the story habit establishes in children the sturdy bedrock on which to grow the power of empathy and an educated mind. It starts with enjoyment.
Two matters currently serving before our Courts will be pivotal for South African education, school governing bodies (SGBs) as well as public single-medium schools. Both matters rest upon the question of who has the final say in determining language and admissions policy in South Africa’s public schools: schools and their SGB’s or provincial departments of education?
Have you ever travelled to China? My experience taught me quickly that in order to not get lost I would take the hotel sewing kit with me. That way I could simply point to the name of the hotel on my sewing kit to get the taxi driver to bring me home. I couldn't identify the ideographs, so if you showed me the name I wouldn't recognise it and I certainly couldn't pronounce the name, no matter how hard I tried. So without my sewing kit I was well and truly lost.
The South Africa Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) says that more than 60 percent of South African pupils choose English for learning and teaching.
SAIRR researcher, Jonathan Snyman, points out that, "The majority of pupils are taught in African languages at the foundation phase, but switch to either English or Afrikaans as their language of learning and teaching from as early as Grade Four."
The Institute states that this is despite the fact that only seven percent of the country's pupils (852 000 out of 12.2 million) spoke English at home.
Attempts to break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty will never be successful as long as we disregard or underestimate the role and impact of indigenous languages in the educational, economic, social and cultural sectors of any society. These sectors often remain inaccessible to communities if they have to access it through a foreign language only or when products and services are only available in a foreign language. This is not only disempowering, but it entrenches the myth that indigenous languages are of lesser value.