African languages 'under threat'

2009-09-11 17:10

Johannesburg - The number of students taking up African languages at university level was declining, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Friday.

"There is a very real threat facing our African languages," he said addressing the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) National General Council in Benoni.

Nzimande said many parents preferred their children to be taught in English. He said those taking up African languages at university level were sometimes perceived by their peers as "second grade students".

"We do [need] to change attitudes otherwise we face a very real danger that down the line African languages would disappear," he said, adding that Ndebele was only taught at one university in the country, Unisa.

Nzimande said it was no secret that a great number of schools in South African were dysfunctional. He called on Sadtu members to work towards changing this.

"There is a revolutionary duty on Sadtu to act as vanguard for education transformation in society".

He said while some teachers were not doing what they were supposed to do, it was the responsibility of education department officials to take leadership to improve things.

Nzimande said the national student financial aid scheme was under review and the committee tasked with looking into it was also asked to look into the possibility of the formation of a student bank.

He said public service workers needed to be committed and those who were moonlighting "must be banned".

He called on Sadtu leaders to resist being used by business interests at the expense of workers.