oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - Bemagtig opvoeders vir onmiddellike mobilisasie van grondslagfase-leerders se geletterdheid

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1995-5928



Empower educators for the immediate mobilisation of foundation phase learners' literacyIn November 2007 the dark picture of the underachievement of South African learners in respect of basic reading skills was emphasised once again when the research results of the University of Pretoria were published. Since 1994 much debate has taken place about possible factors which may cause learners' poor language achievement. In this article I do not wish to focus on the problems, but prefer, rather, to concentrate on possible solutions. The focus of the literature study is grounded in the views of recognised linguist, philosopher and author Noam Chomsky who believes that ""mother tongue is the most basic human right"" (cited by Lezgin 2002:1). A serious mistake is made when individuals in favour of education transformation wish to increase language achievement, but fail to acknowledge the critical role of language acquisition in the foundation phase. The radical change revealed by the speakers of African languages with regard to the pedagogical value of mother-tongue instruction is cause for joy. My plea, however, is that this theoretical recognition would immediately be mobilised to prevent it from becoming mere good intentions. Two aspects are discussed in this article, namely the recognition of the value of mother-tongue instruction in the foundation phase and the empowerment of educators to mobilise available resources under specific circumstances. As motivation for the feasibility of the above-mentioned two tasks I wish to refer to a group of 342 Sesotho-speaking grade 1 learners who were subjected to a reading and spelling programme in 2002 (Koen 2003:9). Critics may feel that research of a more recent nature may be of more actual interest. The above-mentioned research is, however, relevant, since the same problems and issues which were regarded as factors contributing to poor language achievement in 2002 are still prominent. If enthusiastic educators could play a positive role in the development of Sesotho language proficiency five years ago, surely the same results are still possible in 2008.

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