n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Verskuif die klaskamer ter wille van die oorlewing van Afrikaans as wetenskapstaal

Volume 59 Number 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751



Relocate the classroom for the survival of subject jargon in Afrikaans Afrikaans is the only indigenous Southern African language that has been developed to such a level that it can be used as an academic language in any subject, and yet, over the past decade, it has been largely eliminated from the tertiary teaching milieu. According to the latest report released by Stats SA (2018), English is the sixth largest home language and Afrikaans the third largest home language in South Africa, the latter being spoken by approximately 23 million people in Southern Africa. Afrikaans-speaking scientists and technicians educated at colleges and universities where Afrikaans was the language of teaching and learning, work in the private sector and in many parastatals and government institutions, such as the CSIR, ARC, NECSA, the Departments of Water and Sanitation, of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, and of Higher Education and Training, the Parks Board, the Council for Geoscience, and museums. Great scientific breakthroughs have been made by Afrikaans-speaking scientists and many Afrikaans-speaking scientists work as subject specialists overseas, where they are on a par with their international peers. The argument that education in Afrikaans is in some way detrimental to the Afrikaans learner is therefore nonsensical political rhetoric that has no factual basis. Fortunately, Afrikaans is still being taught at some schools in spite of their being subjected to constant and increasing political harassment. The few remaining Afrikaans single-medium schools are accused by government officials of maintaining the hegemony of the pre-1994 Afrikaans government by excluding students who prefer English medium tuition. Anglicising these schools, that comprise only 5% of the schools in South Africa, will hardly make up for the shortage of schools that is taking on critical proportions, especially considering that hundreds of thousands of new learners enter the school system annually. However, a situation far more serious than Afrikaans-language teaching and learning threatens education in South Africa, and that is the incompetence of teachers in certain English medium schools. Many people who insist on being taught in English want access to Afrikaans schools, while they have the opportunity to go to schools in townships where English is the language of teaching and learning. The reason is clear: according to several surveys the literacy and mathematical competency of teachers in these underperforming schools is far below par and the lowest in the world. Parents know this, while Afrikaans medium schools have a reputation of being some of the best-performing schools in South Africa. With the exception of the North-West University, and to a degree at the University of the Free State and the University of Stellenbosch, Afrikaans-speaking students are now forced to receive their tuition in English at all South African universities. This creates the untenable situation that Afrikaans-speaking teachers have to teach Afrikaans-speaking learners in Afrikaans medium schools with an English subject jargon background. Government policy apologists are not concerned about this, and use the “equal misery” argument, believing that the playing field would then be level because everyone (except, of course, English mother tongue speakers) is equally disadvantaged because all are taught in a language other than their own.

Afrikaans het grotendeels as onderrigtaal op universiteite verdwyn ten spyte daarvan dat Afrikaans een van die tale is wat die meeste in Suider-Afrika gepraat word en wat gevestigde vaktale het. Afrikaanssprekendes is as wetenskaplikes werksaam in sowel die privaat sektor as staatsinstansies. Afrikaanssprekendes was al vir groot deurbrake in die wetenskap verantwoordelik en talle werk as vakkundiges oorsee, al het hulle hul opleiding op skool en op universiteit in Afrikaans ontvang. Duidelik is mense wat in Afrikaans onderrig is, nie daardeur benadeel nie en kan hulle in elke opsig by internasionale wetenskaplikes kers vashou. Afrikaans as onderrigtaal word tans nog by sekere skole toegelaat, maar die druk op hierdie skole word al hoe groter. Die aantal Afrikaanssprekende onderwysers wat gedwing word om op universiteit in Engels onderrig te ontvang en wat daarna by ʼn Afrikaanse skool klasgee, word al hoe groter. ʼn Alternatief moet gevind word om Afrikaans as taal van die wetenskap en onderrig te laat oorleef, nie slegs vir die behoud van ʼn unieke inheemse taal wat oor eeue heen ontstaan het nie, maar ook vir die behoud van die Afrikaanssprekende gemeenskap en die handhawing van kommunikasie en onderrig binne hierdie gemeenskap, wat almal van kleuter tot akademikus, van boer tot konsultant, van navorser tot onderwyser insluit. Afrikaanse vakinhoud op die internet vir graad R tot universiteit waarby leerders, onderwysers en ouers baat sal vind, word as alternatief vir staatsbeheerde Engelstalige vakonderrig voorgestel.

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