Cape Town – The Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) is calling for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to allow matrics to answer trial-exam questions in their home language.
This comes after an Eastern Cape initiative where selected subjects such as the mathematics paper were composed in the pupils’ home language, with a smidgen of English interpretation to certain words on the paper.
KDF chairperson Ndithini Tyhido urged the Western Cape to also implement the initiative. He said the townships in the Western Cape were the next largest in Xhosa-speaking areas outside the Eastern Cape.
“That could also improve the appreciation of the language, especially now it is heritage month,” he said.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department was aware of the pilot initiated in the Eastern Cape in selected subjects. She said the WCED would take direction from the Department of Basic Education once the pilot had been assessed.
UWC senior lecturer and head of African Language Studies, Dr Sebolelo Makapela, said it was long overdue and “a decision applauded by many who understand the power of language and how liberating it is, in every respect“.
Makapela said non-mother language is quite limiting and thereby putting a lot of pressure on pupils and/or students whose first language is not their language.
“They have to worry and get penalized for other grammatical aspects that do not have much bearing on the content, which markers should be paying attention to,” she said.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said the EC must be commended for embracing diversity and multilingualism to that level.
Sayed said the ANC also welcomes the limited use of the WC official languages – as provided for in law and with support structures like a provincial language board.
“More must be done to give effect to our constitutional intent to recognise and celebrate our diversity. This includes also indigenous, sign and religious languages,” he said.
Sayed said the time was ripe to demand of the regional government to lead by example and extend the languages into all spheres of life.