n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Moedertaalonderwys en meertaligheid : praktiese oplossings vir Afrikaans en ander Afrikatale

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This article addresses the mismatch between official multilingualism, on the one hand, and the current hegemony of English in South African education, on the other. The specific focus is on a number of issues faced by a schooling system still struggling with a dual legacy. The first is African-language speakers' historically-induced suspicion of mother-tongue education, despite its universally-acknowledged benefits. Coupled to this is the belief that only an English-medium education can provide a quality education. Together with the state's sometimes clumsy attempts to provide access to good schools for the historically disadvantaged, black parents' aspirations to enrol their children in Afrikaans single-medium schools have put pressure on the latter to accommodate English-seeking learners, often in a parallel English-medium stream - to the chagrin of some Afrikaans-speaking communities. This paper argues that the legitimate right to mother-tongue education should not be conflated with single-medium institutions. Furthermore, the notion of dual-medium education is explored as a viable alternative to the current delayed submersion into English, with implications for teacher training. Other aspects dealt with include the need to rehabilitate African languages via language subjects, teachers' language proficiency and the formal recognition of multilingual competence, as well as the decentralisation of schooling that has allowed schools to take pedagogically irresponsible decisions about language policy. Crucially, the realisation of a home-language based education system depends on the meeting up of language planning "from above" with progressive initiatives and pressures "from below".

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