EC Department of Education on mother tongue pilot project for 2020 matric exams

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  • Eastern Cape matriculants will be testing a pilot project during their trial exams
  • For the first time in SA, students will be able to write in their mother tongue
  • The class of 2020 will be able to choose to write in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa or Sesotho 

The matric class of 2020 is due to begin trail exams on 14 September 2020 and for the first time some exam papers will be available in students' mother tongue. 

Parent24 talked to Mr Loyiso Phulumane, the Eastern Cape Department of Education communications manager, about this pilot project, and why it is only starting now after 26 years of democracy.

The council of education ministers 

Mr Phulumane mentioned that the main reasons for this project took so long include the fact that there are policy sections that have been against the implementation of the mother tongue bilingual education.

These had to be amended to allow for such a practice.

"For the first time the council of Education ministers accepted the importance of acknowledging mother tongue bilingual education," he said. 

"The Council of education permitted this project to happen by giving the Eastern Cape Department of Education a go ahead," he revealed. "In so doing, it also allowed the students to read and write in their home languages." 

These matriculants in quintile 1 to 3 schools in the Eastern Cape will be making history.  

Covid-19 was the catalyst for this change

Mr Phulumane believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has done a lot in hastening the progress of this pilot project.

When it comes to the language selection, he told us, the acknowledged official languages in the eastern cape are English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and Sesotho.

Traditionally, the question paper had a co-language arrangement where English and Afrikaans were the language options for the matric examinations.

Now, the introduction of a mother tongue bilingual arrangement was going to make it possible for all the learners in the province to be included.

Mr Phulumane told Parent24 that Sesotho is mostly spoken in towns such as Matatielle and Sterkspruit, whereas isiXhosa is spoken in towns such as Dutywa, Cofimvaba and many other parts of the province.

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