Bantu languages in education in South Africa: An overview. Ongekho akekho! – the absentee owner

Type Journal Article - The Language Learning Journal
Title Bantu languages in education in South Africa: An overview. Ongekho akekho! – the absentee owner
Volume 38
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers 273-292
The main argument of this overview article is that the Bantu languages of South Africa should have a far more signi?cant role in education. We contend that the strong preference for English as medium of instruction among black learners is largely responsible for their inadequate educational performance, particularly since most of these learners do not have the required skills in English. This is particularly the case in rural and township schools and in what we term ‘lower exmodel C schools’, given the socio-economic realities of the communities in which these schools are located. Were the Bantu languages used for learning and teaching purposes in an effective way, we suggest the educational outcomes of black learners would be signi?cantly better. We accept, of course, that schools, especially secondary schools, cannot immediately implement a policy of using the Bantu languages as media of instruction. Several research and development challenges need to be addressed for this to happen. These include: transforming the socio-political meanings attached to these languages; their further corpus development as well as their status, prestige, acquisition and usage development; the development and implementation of language-in-education policies which address the basic educational and sociolinguistic realities; and the e?ective distribution of information to school governing bodies about the issues relevant to the selection of a medium of instruction. In our view, South Africa will not become a developed, e?ectively multilingual and nationally integrated country if linguistic equity and parity of esteem are not established in a meaningful way for all o?cial languages, which includes provision for their use as media of instruction throughout.

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