language in schools

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga.

Photo: Supplied

Goodbye English? Big language changes scheduled for SA schools

Minister Angie Motshekga says that the biggest reason for pupils’ lack of comprehension is because they are being taught in English.

language in schools

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga.

Photo: Supplied

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on 9 March last week that the government will soon be implementing language changes in South African schools. According to Angie, children are performing poorly in school because they are being taught using English – a language that is foreign to them.

The minister said that the government will now be moving toward teaching children in their mother tongue in all provinces.

Govt plans to start teaching pupils in their home language

It appears teaching in English will soon become a thing of the past for many South African schools as the Department of Basic Education takes further steps to ensure that all pupils are learning in their mother tongues.

Speaking during a parliamentary Q&A on Wednesday last week, Angie Motshekga confirmed that the government will be moving forward with its plans to incorporate mother-tongue languages at the country’s schools.

According to Motshekga, the biggest reason for pupils’ lack of comprehension skills is because they are being taught in English – a language which is basically “foreign” to them.

ALSO READ: This two-year-old maths genius can count in multiple languages [watch]

“They are no longer being tested on their cognitive development or understanding (0f the work). You are now testing their language abilities, which is a problem.

“Government has begun the process of changing this and the next step is to assess them in the language they are taught – so that we are able assess performance and not language proficiency.”

“The bottom line is that we need to adopt mother-tongue instruction in South Africa,” she said.

A successful trial

The minister added that the government had already held successful mother-tongue pilot projects in the Eastern Cape and have taken this as a nod to move the project to other provinces in the country.

BusinessTech reports that 2,015 schools in the Eastern Cape are using IsiXhosa and Sesotho as the language of learning and teaching (LoLT) beyond the foundation phase.

Learners in these schools are taught subjects such as Mathematics, Natural Science, and Technology in their home languages IsiXhosa and Sesotho.

Motshekga also noted that it would be impossible to transition to a purely mother-tongue-based system.

According to her, the government will use technology and other systems to effectively translate complicated scientific and mathematical concepts into languages that do not necessarily have the same terminology.

ALSO READ: Bright spark: Elon Musk’s mom spotted Tesla CEO’s genius at age 3 [watch]