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Decline in African language public schools

By admin
18 March 2014

Single-medium African language public schools have declined from 7.2% of the total in 2008, to 4.6% in 2012, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Tuesday.

"Most pupils learn an African language at foundation phase, but switch to either English or Afrikaans from as early as Grade 4," said SAIRR researcher Thuthukani Ndebele in a statement.

"The decline in the use of African languages in schools is evidently not a choice made at tertiary level, but is exercised by parents and pupils at the early schooling stages."

Single-medium schools use one language of instruction for all pupils in all grades, and account for 44% of all public schools.

Ndebele said the decline in the number of African language single-medium schools was because the majority of these schools became dual, typically combining with the English language.

He said an analysis, based on an answer by the minister of basic education to a parliamentary question, found that of all the official African languages in single-medium schools, only Xhosa saw an increase: from 278 in 2008, to 317 in 2012. This was a 14% increase.

The second most used African language in single-medium public schools was Zulu. Between 2008 and 2012, the number of these schools declined from 188 to 85 [a 55% drop].

Ndebele said English was the most widely used language in single-medium public schools, accounting for 81% of these schools in 2012.

But, these English schools grew by only 2% - from 8 522 in 2008, to 8 721 in 2012.

- SAPA