Downgrading of our languages improper

2015-06-18 06:00
lukhanyo mangona

opinion lukhanyo mangona

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I have been pre-occupied with the poor performance of Africans in the Mathematics, Sciences and Commercial subjects.for some time now.

African children prevail in humanity subjects and are confined in these career spaces whilst their counterparts thrive in other well-paying careers.

If black children were in some imaginary place but having a fly-in-the-wall view of events, they would surely choose to be in a white family reproductive system.

Black children grow up in households that have low knowledge and language development spaces.

Black children in rural areas are grounded in the knowledge of their language of birth and learn nuances of that language as they grow in their family.

They develop a rich vocabulary but unfortunately that pre-school learning remains in the sidelines of their economic activity when they become older.

Similar experiences do happen to learners in urban black townships, unfortunately the language richness is diluted as the urban spaces were designed to weaken home grounded knowledge.

These children are not born in families that are knowledge, language and text rich. The kind of learning they receive at home is limited to the survivalist tactics, as one academic pointed out.

The learning is largely behaviourist as learning psychology theory explains. Juxtapose this with white kids who are raised in families of professionals and are in environments that are more educational.

What I read in academia is that learners use their home languages as the language of instruction for the first four grades. Then they change the language of teaching and learning to English. This is the second exclusion that is presented to the black child. The first being a watered down language instruction, being English First Additional Language- whilst their counterparts do largely English Home Language.

During the transition, the learners are then taught any conceptual subject in English.

Whether the books in these subjects are written in first additional or Home Language English I am not sure but try taking your Mathematics or Natural Science grade 4 textbook and you will be the judge.

What this proves is that our children are given an unfair chance in life by merely being born with a dark skin.

The argument pushed by academics is that African languages are not well developed for academic use.

There’s limited literature on the development of Swahili for instance as a language of instruction in Tanzania.

My visit to that country cemented in my memory that Swahili is respected in that country, unlike this patronising of languages in this country by using them as translation tools.

No doubt other factors had to be factored in to the debate for poor performance of black children but it has dawned on my mind that the language is a colonisation tool that is being used to continue to further the “othering” of black people.

The question we are going to wake up and answer one day is “why did we let the structural and unjust discrimination of black children go unchecked.

The signs are there because in the township children are left to wheel around dustbins to sell scrap with nothing meaningful to do and are only a danger to ourselves.

In universities children are starting to ask crucial question about why we have been celebrating people who had been making us sub-human for centuries.

. Mangona is the Academic Director at Masifundisane Tutoring Service(MaTS). MaTS is an entity that helps in providing specialised tutoring services in Maths, Maths Lit, Sciences and Commercial subjects.

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