Zulu a worry in KZN schools

2012-05-08 00:00

WITH 120 000 pupils registered to write their matric exams this year, the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has identified Zulu as one of the most problematic subjects, along with mathematics, physical science and technology.

Zulu is the most widely spoken language in the province and surrounding areas, with 23% of South Africans speaking the language.

Many pupils do not speak conventional Zulu, “and when they write the exam they struggle”, said the head of the department, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi.

Pupils often mixed languages, and the Zulu they spoke was not pure form.

He said it was mostly pupils who lived near the Mozambican, Swaziland and Lesotho borders who battle with the subject. The areas include Underberg and Mkhanyakude municipalities.

Mathematics, physical science and technology are also problem subjects.

Although the matric pass rate for 2011 was at a high of 70,2%, the Education Department said it was concerned about the declining numbers of matric pupils studying maths. It was reported that only 224 635 of the country’s 496 090 matrics last year wrote the mathematics exam and fewer than half of the candidates achieved 30% or more.

Only 41 586 matrics — or fewer than 20% of those who wrote the maths exam — scored more than 50% for maths.

Sishi said the department was doing everything in its power to support this year’s matriculants. The department’s intervention plan included Saturday classes, dealing with language issues and providing learning material that would help pupils to prepare for their exams.

He said the department was looking at a long-term strategy to build a strong foundation in numeracy and language studies in the early childhood development and intermediate phase.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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