Statistics show that English is increasingly forcing mother tongue education in Afrikaans and other indigenous languages out of the education system, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on Basic Education, says.
From a response to a parliamentary question on the issue, it appears as if Afrikaans in particular is the biggest loser. In Gauteng alone, approximately a quarter of Afrikaans schools has since 2002 been changed into English medium schools.
With regards to the Free State, 26 out a total of 113 schools have been changed into non-Afrikaans medium schools, in Gauteng 103 in 266 and in KwaZulu-Natal 27 out of 44 schools.
In Gauteng there are at present 168 Afrikaans schools as opposed to 1 539 English schools and in the Free State 75 to the 303 English schools. In KwaZulu-Natal there are only 12 Afrikaans schools left as opposed to 2 153 English schools. Only in the Western Cape Afrikaans schools are still in the majority with 648 schools as opposed to the 461 English schools.
Research institutions such as Ipsos-Markinor released the results of an opinion poll which indicated that more than two-thirds of South Africans of all races are of the opinion that children have the right to receive their education in their mother tongue.
According to Ipsos-Markinor there is agreement about this throughout all the different language groups in the country, but in particular amongst English and Afrikaans speakers, with other African languages following shortly on their heels.
Adv. Alberts says the minister of education’s answer is in direct opposition to the research as she stated in her reply that English has now become the preferred language of instruction for parents.
According to the minister, “In response to a growing number of learners requesting English as medium of instruction, schools have introduced English as the second medium of instruction. The declining number of Afrikaans speaking learners means that schools revert to parallel-medium (Afrikaans/English) schools.
“Some parents preferred that their children be taught in English because they view it as an essential language for global business success,” the minister’s reply reads.
Adv. Alberts says the department’s statistics about the decline in the number of Afrikaans schools and the findings of the market research show that the ANC government is not honest about the issue and that it is busy unilaterally forcing its will on the public.
“It seems at present Afrikaans is going downhill and English is flourishing. It is a disgrace. English should at most be a bridging language except for English first-language speakers. The minister, together with the different provinces will have to do more to create schools for mother tongue education.
“White people should also be compelled to learn one African language other than Afrikaans so that communication bridges can be built without English having to be the only platform for it. We have to think, speak and dream indigenously, locally and globally,” Adv. Alberts says.
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