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Features & Columns
by Bheki Mtongwana

Reader Experience

The more things change the more they stay the same!

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I am not one of those moms that are constantly at their kid’s school harassing the teachers for explanations over this and that. I actually look down on those parents for I feel they disrupt the teaching process.

I can handle it if my children don’t make it into the first team for rugby and aren’t the brightest in class. All I ask is that they try hard and do their utmost best in everything.

I expect the same attitude from the school when it comes to teaching my children, so it was with much dismay that I learnt that some private schools did not offer indigenous languages as a second language alternative, which is part of the core curriculum to be taught during school hours. In this day and age, as a black parent, my children are still being forced to learn Afrikaans as a second language and the vernacular option is considered a co-curricula subject taught out of school hours for those who chose to. It’s not compulsory nor is it regarded as necessary.

To many this might not sound like a big deal but to me it hit me at my core and got my back up. When one looks at the history of the country when it comes to language, especially Afrikaans, I find rather upsetting that 20 years on not much as changed. The riots of June 1976 we recently commemorated, that claimed the lives of so many children, were as a result of students being forced to learn in Afrikaans and rebelling against it. It’s sad to note this is still in play today.

To be fair, the blame doesn’t stop at the schools that are failing to implement this. When the democratic government came into power these are some of the issues they should have addressed right from the start. Each and every school in the country should offer the option of Afrikaans and an indigenous language as part of the core curriculum. Anything less is shameful.

I have no qualms with my children learning Afrikaans – the more languages they know the better - however I strongly object to it being compulsory and firmly believe that they have to be given the option to choose, and this has been taken away from them and us as parents.

I mentioned in my opening paragraphs, I have the same expectations of my children as I have of the schools we send them to. As an institution the school has to try – try to rectify the ills of the past and try to have a fully inclusive curriculum that makes my children feel that their heritage and their culture is just as important as the next child.

When a school fails to take this into consideration as they sit around and consider their curriculum, regardless of the demographic of the society that is indicated in the school, they fail each and every child that they have taken under their care.

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