Issues arising from the implementation of language policy in historically disadvantaged schools in Greater Pietermaritzburg : a policy analysis.
Hadebe, Thobekile Primrose.
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This project sets out to outline the problems that are encountered by teachers in most black schools in South Africa, with regard to the language of instruction. In an attempt to cope with these problems teachers exercise their discretion, which often leads to them making policy. The language policy in education gives the learners a right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice. The current situation in South Africa does not allow for the exercise of such a right. Black schools in rural areas, therefore, continue to choose English as the medium of instruction, although in actual practice Zulu becomes the main language that is used to get the lesson across the learners. Such a practice has both negative and positive effects on learners who attend these schools. To understand what actually happens in black schools with regard to policy implementation, I conducted interviews in two rural primary and one secondary schools near Pietermaritzburg. Information was elicited from teachers of Grade 1 to 10, members of the schools' governing bodies, as well as learners. It became evident from my study that the choice of mother tongue instruction will not be made in the near future despite the difficulties that are faced by the schools in teaching in the medium of English. The reasons for such a kind of situation are that the blacks have negative attitudes towards their languages, and the status of these languages lag far beyond that of English In brief, English is still the important language in education, government, economy and administration. There is no way the good language policy of 1996 will take root if nothing is done to change the present course of events. The black schools will continue to battle with teaching in English and in the process produce learners of poor quality. The study recommends that the government should undertake campaigns to improve and develop African languages such that they become the languages of instruction in schools and tertiary education institutions. The stakeholders in education could also cooperate in ensuring that the chosen medium of instruction is adhered to. This would minimise the problems that lead to partial or non implementation of the policy.
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