Pupils choose English as the medium of instruction

By Drum Digital
07 February 2012

More and more pupils are choosing to study English instead of their home languages says a survey by South African Institute of Race Relations.

In the survey more than 60% of pupils in South African schools choose English for learning and teaching, while only 7% of them speak English as their home language.

Apart from English, Afrikaans is the only language that has more pupils choosing it as their preferred language of instruction than it had pupils who speak it at home.

The decline in learning in African languages is perpetuated by the lack of “understanding the importance of children learning in their own language,” says musician Simphiwe Dana in an interview with NewsNow magazine.

Speaking from her own experience of having to learn the language, she adds that you can’t blame parents because they know that for their children to get ahead they need to speak, read and write English well.

Zulu is the most widely spoken home language, spoken by over 3.1 million pupils. However, less than a third of them choose to be taught in Zulu.

The same trend is true of Xhosa, Tswana, Pedi, Swati, and Venda speaking pupils.

Less than a quarter of pupils who speak Ndebele, Sotho, or Tsonga as their home language actually choose to learn in their respective languages.

Minister of higher education and training, Dr Blade Nzimande, once indicated that in future every South African university student could be required to learn at least one African language as a condition for graduation.

The South African Languages Bill is before the National Assembly’s arts and culture committee and is set to give equal importance to all South Africa’s 11 official languages, the magazine noted.

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