On Sunday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced that mother-tongue education will now be an option at over 250 schools in the Western Cape.
According to a statement released by the DA, various experts have suggested that learners and parents take advantage of the opportunity to be taught in their home language. Experts have also suggested that being taught in their mother tongue will make the experience of education less stressful for both learner and teacher, improving learning outcomes.
“If and when offered, I urge all learners and parents to tap into the opportunity for learners to be taught in their home language. In addition to this, I’d like to commend Minister Debbie Schafer and the Western Cape Educational Department (WCED) for making the decision to implement isiXhosa to an additional 254 schools (725 Grade 1 classes), reaching just over 26 000 learners across our Province at the start of the second term this year,” the statement read.
The South African Constitution’s Act No.108 of 1996, SA Schools Act’s Act 84 of 1996 and the Western Cape School Education Act’s Act 12 of 1997 all make provision for mother-tongue instruction. However, these rights are dependent on practicality. Budgetary constraints will also play a role in how effectively these rights are exercised.
The DA in the Western Cape maintains that they are committed to ensuring that each and every learner in the province is granted the fair opportunity to be educated in their mother tongue.
According to Millicent Merton, a spokesperson for the MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Schaffer, training of subject advisors and teachers will be taking place in March. Xhosa will be implemented at the 254 (725 Grade 1 classes reaching 26 350 learners) schools at the start of the second term.
“In 2015, the WCED ran a pilot project in 10 schools introducing Xhosa in Grade 1. This pilot continued into 2016 and 2017 with outstanding results. The schools spoke of the positive gains that they experienced by introducing the subject to the extent that the principals of the pilot schools once again indicated their interest to continue with the subject into Grade 2 and 3 and the new Grade 1 cohort in 2016 and 2017,” Merton says.
The Western Cape is the province with the largest number of schools in the country where English and Afrikaans are first and second languages. Xhosa is currently offered in only 23.61% of schools in the province, and there are plans to implement this in a further 354 schools.