Mother Tongue Teaching in EC

In an effort to improve the standard of education, the Eastern Cape is the first province
in the country to move towards implementing mother tongue-based teaching, learning
and assessment in the foundation phases.

Already 74 primary schools in the Cofimvaba district have adopted the model, which is envisaged to be rolled out in the other 22 education districts in the province.

This week language experts, subject advisers, education officials, members of parliament and officials from the office of premier Noxolo Kiviet met for a two-day workshop at the Stirling Education Leadership Institute in East London to craft a standardized dictionary to be used for maths, science and technology at schools.

Xhosa textbooks, other than the normal English-worded material, will be provided to pupils. Children in the foundation phases (Grades 1 to 3) in the district are also to write their Annual National Assessment (ANA) exams this year in Xhosa.

Last year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga released the country’s ANA results for foundation and intermediate phases (Grades 4 to 6) in the country.

Literacy and numeracy tests were conducted at a total of 164 schools in the Eastern Cape – and the results proved poor.

Grade 3 pupils scored 39% in literacy and 40% in maths, while Grade 6 pupils scored lower, managing only 29% in both subjects. Eastern Cape education department language policy manager Naledi Mbudeshale, who is driving the project, said the move by the district would improve the ANA results.

“I know that there are some fears that children will not know English and that these children will not have a bright future and there will not be a space for them at higher institutions of learning but these are untrue and unfounded,”
said Mbudeshale.

“These children are going to be taught English, but they will learn other subjects in their mothertongue. English will be just a resource subject.”

Mbudeshale said the Cofimvaba district had offered to teach the children in Xhosa because children were battling to understand their subjects in English. The bilingual approach would still be implemented, but Xhosa would be used as the first language instead of English.

She plans to present a report on the matter to education MEC Mandla Makupula and acting superintendent-general Mthunywa Ngonzo. It would then be handed to the Bhisho legislature.

Mbudeshale said publishers would be consulted to write books
based on standardised concepts. The department’s deputy director-
general of institutional operations management, Sithembele Zibi said the move would improve the standard of education. “It’s time to reclaim our status. In the past we were ahead compared to other provinces. We used to offer education to children coming from other provinces. Now we are behind,” said Zibi. “We have a challenge of shortages of teachers and those who are skilled in these subjects. Maybe this is the way to go and will ultimately lead to the improvement of matric results.”

The project comes as the ANC in the Eastern Cape attempts to push for children to be taught in their mother tongue and vernacular languages across the country.

The province has already had its policy proposal to have Xhosa speaking children in the Eastern Cape taught in their mother tongue accepted at the party’s national policy conference last month.

ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane confirmed that there were
plans to discuss the implementation of mother tongue education to the
other provinces at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in
December.

Qoboshiyane said about 90% of the subjects were currently taught in
English and children whose first language is not English were battling
to understand lessons.

He said the proposal had received a lot of support from academics and
researchers from universities in the province. “What we were
advocating [at the recent conference] was the establishment of an
African Language Institute.

“This was accepted by the plenary of the policy conference so we can
have more educators of language[s] we are talking about.

“We said these steps must be taken to ensure that the second phase of
our transition respects our mother tongue. There was a total
acceptance of our proposal” said Qoboshiyane.

The following report first appeared in the Saturday Dispatch (14/07/2012), written by its education reporter – Msindisi Fengu.

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Educating Xhosa Men

Written by Unathi Kondile in isiXhosa, here.

Translated by Pumla Dineo Gqola, below:

Tetse, a lad of 20, lived with his mother, near Matatiele. Every year he would broach this question to her, “O’lady, when will it be my turn to attend initiation school?”. This question was echoed each December and July.

Last year, the youngster decided to enter traditional manhood initiation without parental permission. He joined a group of boys whose school in the Matatiele hills would fall under Tat’ uJwarha’s supervision. Jwarha was a man now famous for the meandering walk of the intoxicated. A skillful traditional surgeon in bygone days, alcohol abuse had long erased his talent.

The long and short of my tale is that Tetse did not graduate from initiation school. Rumour has it he died from dehydration and an unnamed ailment.  In 2011, he was among the 25 other initiates who died.

As I write this, July is again upon us, and, as is the case in many years, youngsters are itching and acting out in anticipation of their turn to be turned initiate. Not all of them will graduate to manhood. Some will be news headline fodder, and as readers we will be cautioned against traditional manhood initiation processes (ukwaluka). We will be told by Westerners and the fools among our own, controlled by the former, screaming “Change this custom”, “This is thuggery, boys are dying!” and so forth.

All of this because of the irresponsibility of Jwarha-types and uncontained excitement by the likes of Tetse.

If I appear to lay the blame at the feet of Jwarha and Tetse, this is by design. There is nothing amiss in the actual custom. When we speak of custom, we refer to the procedures of a people according to their faith systems.  In historical writing, Sonkqishe and others defined tradition as that which is adhered to in each home in accordance with that family’s belief system.  There would be customary correlation within the same family lineage (isiduko). There is also the belief that custom is medicine – that people who exists outside of it can fall ill or be badly behaved.

From the above, then, the source of contemporary problems with men and manhood is evident. Many men today emerge out of initiation schools not with custom but with bad behaviour. The textures of this need extensive investigation. There are also distracting (destructive) conflations of traditional manhood initiation (ukwaluka) with mere circumcision (ukwaluswa). This simplistic conflation of a process and an event is particularly evident in the noise on television and newspaper pages.

Traditional manhood initiation processes used to be a protected custom, but it has since become an openly discussed matter. What is troubling is how few Xhosa men have intervened into these discussions of what has gone wrong. I am not sure whether this is due to jealousy or civilisation. Jealousy seems to be at the heart of the matter for me. Otherwise, how do you explain those of us who have benefitted from the lessons of traditional manhood initiation (ukwaluka) refusing to pass on this very same wisdom to youngsters who come after us?  Is it because we no longer see the role of ukwaluka in society?  Then, how dare we exclaim in horror when youngsters deemed officially men are so crude in behaviour?

They rape old women and children, beat up women, terrorise communities, kill one another – ask for cigarettes and alcohol from boys, are openly intoxicated in public, and live for alcohol.

That is the situation. We have been so infatuated with “Western” ways of being that we have forgotten that before a person was a person through communion with others, a people were human through adherence to their own customs.

Perhaps all matters customary are hard to swallow for some because of the involvement of ancestry veneration, something new Christians are repulsed by. Why are our people so ready to worship imported gods when these are as unscientific as ours? Why is it so easy to make the leap of faith towards that of another but not towards our very own? While we look down on all matters ancestor related we worship at the very throne of other faith narratives.

Yes, faith is a private matter. You have a right to choose. But as a Xhosa person, your starting point should be custom and ancestry – referenced as a source of strength, growth and protection. Instead we are saddled with men who are not only badly behaved in communities and society at large, they also abdicate their responsibilities within families. This is a crisis.

We need to ask again: what is a man?

Is it enough to simply go through a stage and end the story with the celebrations that follow? Last I checked, being a man meant graduating from boyhood in accordance with ukwaluka. A man is he who has been counselled by experts who have gone before, along with other wise elders. A Xhosa man is he who takes care of royalty, leaders and protects office bearers as per African tradition. No man lives alone. When the home is beset by problems, a man seeks counsel from his peers. Such a man supports others in the community and ensures that his home is well nourished. These days you notice how women shoulder all of the responsibilities I have listed, while men choose the infantile behaviour of boys. Today’s “men” choose the easy way out.

Can such an individual still be called a man? No. Why do they even bother going to traditional manhood school (esuthwini) these days? Given how such men behave, it becomes easy to look down on ukwaluka as an ineffective custom. No wonder outsiders call for the elimination of ukwaluko; there is no discernable difference between boys and these new men.

As a man who continues to go home, I am pained when I visit initiates in rural villages and townships alike and find their traditional caretakers (amakhankatha) gone missing, the places of confinement for initiates (amabhoma) littered with beer bottles competing for space with KFC packages.  I see any random men from the environs taking liberties with these initiates, offering inappropriate advice. Why then should initiates take such an institution seriously as a dignified station and role? It has simply become procedure, another stage, just so they can also declare “I am a man” at the end.

This is a problem. If we take neither responsibility nor pride in our own custom, how dare we expect outsiders to take us seriously? The calls for the end of this custom will continue to gather momentum.

I predict that larger numbers of initiates will enter hospitals, where their amabhoma will be Ward this and that number. These numbers will explode because most children are singlehandedly raised by their mothers. Where are the fathers? They have gone astray. They are indifferent to who will initiate their sons. What do we think of this enormous burden we continue to place on these single mothers? Do we really expect that these women, who stay and parent, will knowingly enter their sons into this disastrous situation?

We have long ceased caring, and our carelessness will be our decline. We bear witness to the fruits of that disregard. Yet we keep asking ourselves, “what is wrong with today’s youth?” and “what is wrong with today’s men?” We threw away customs that built us and now we feign shock and horror.

Although it is forbidden to discuss the internal workings of the initiation process, we have come to a place where we need to deviate from this secrecy and start writing the procedures down. Otherwise, we run the risk of further damage by pseudo-experts. We have come to a juncture where we also need cultural Bibles, like other peoples in the world. We certainly cannot rely on traditional leaders on this count given the dire state of those positions. Let us open this discussion and get the support we need in order to strengthen one another in the open, rather than harm ourselves in private. The priority needs to be ensuring adherence to custom in order to see how we can improve our collective fate again.

We, Xhosa people, have elaborate leadership and governance structures, advice giving and rehabilitation mechanisms that predate and survive the introduction of “Western” styles of rule. For example, this past weekend I was at a Gugulethu joint called Corner Lounge, where I suddenly saw different types of brandies arrive along with a group of men who settled next to me. I soon realised from their conversation that all of this alcohol was compensation paid by two men: one who had beaten his wife up and another who had been badly behaved in the community.  Witnessing this made me happy to see traditional Xhosa dispute resolution practices at play. People get punished in Xhosa society in ways that quickly address the wrong. The first man’s wife was reassured by these other men that should he behave inappropriately again, they would sort him out.

Don’t we agree that punishment is universal in Xhosa idiom?

The solutions to our problems lie before our very eyes. Let us return to exploring what manhood is. What does it mean to be a Xhosa man?

Let me conclude.

I started out by pointing to the onset of July, some initiates have entered ukwaluka and some will not come out. We will be inundated by newspaper reportage on the evils of this custom. We will be unable to defend it. We will remain silent insisting on respecting the expected insider secrecy. We will miss an opportunity to educate society on the importance of making men, through education, respect, support and affirming counsel.

This custom tries to build, not to kill.

We will not ensure that those like Jwarha do not open their own initiation schools in the wild; we will not ensure that boys understand why they are there. We will not ensure that no boy enters without parental permission. We will not ensure that men in the community strengthen this custom or that we standardise its practice today.

While some say custom can embarrass us, I say to abandon it is to surrender the future.

Ayanda Mabulu vs Brett Murray

by Unathi Kondile

Firstly, I’d like to thank Brett Murray for his contribution to the arts.

Secondly, I wish I could deliver canapés and wine to all the South African households who have had the privilege of entering a gallery from the comfort of their homes, courtesy of our media’s walkabouts therein.

Thirdly, I’d like to talk about the state of the Art, in South Africa, as well as the neglected role of township / black artists in post-apartheid South Africa.

Let’s just rewind to 2010. An artist named Ayanda Mabulu. Pause. I thought this was a pseudonym at first, because this name and surname combo means “Afrikaners are expanding!” You have to love the irony of naming in Africa. Anyway, Ayanda Mabulu produces a piece titled “Ngcono ihlwempu kunesibhanxo sesityebi” (better a fool than a rich man’s nonsense, loosely translated). It’s exhibited at Worldart Gallery towards the end of 2010. This is it:

Without going into too much detail about the work (above), it shows President Jacob Zuma’s manhood in crutches and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s manhood tied up as if it’s injured (both blurred out for the purposes of this site). Mabulu explained these representations as metaphors – the crutches on the president’s manhood indicate overuse and that it needs crutches to get by. Tutu’s tied up manhood alludes to how weakened the Archbishop has become, he is “incapacitated and ‘colonised’ by Western values – in pain, just like during initiation [circumcision].”

I would imagine such prominent penises would cause an outcry of bellowing proportions. But alas, calm prevailed, largely because this work remained in the elitist confines of the art world. Protected from the underdeveloped minds of those that aren’t acquainted to fine art. Protected from uncouth admirers who would gobble this up all too literally. Safe. ‘Outsiders’ could not access it and the media couldn’t give a toss about what some black artist had done.

Forward to today. Brett Murray produces The Spear which depicts the president of South Africa in a Lenin-like stance with his manhood dangling below. The City Press newspaper picks this spear up and runs with it. And boy do they run with it. The editor is beyond herself with bewilderment of selling papers to an art consuming market. She can’t wait. All those art connoisseurs buying her paper. Praise Murray! A few days later the ANC is up in arms about this depiction of the president. They’re even up in arms with the City Press, which gave a hand in the distribution… The rest is history, as they say. As all of this is relegated to the country’s latest frenzy – outcry on social media and only one or two iconoclastically inclined vandals are bold enough to do something about the work.

Question is: Why was there no outcry over Ayanda Mabulu’s depiction of president Zuma?

Yes, Brett Murray is a renowned artist (within his own or art circles), but not to the overwhelming majority that is against his work. Who he is is irrelevant to this outcry. So, why was there no outrage around Mabulu’s work? The answer to this is much more complex than because he is a black artist or it’s politics. The answer to this could tear South Africa’s art farce to pieces. Shred it. But today I do not feel like tearing anything. So I’ll be gentle. If we look at the current crop of black South African artists that are going places or have made it you will largely notice that their work revolves around identity: blackness and sexuality to be precise. Nothing else.

Whereas if you look at their white counterparts, who went to the same art institutions – they have the leisure of placing a box of Omo next to a box of Joko and calling that Joko Omo (Yoko Ono) in an art gallery. And praise prevails. If a black artist were to attempt to display such it would be ignored, laughed off as imbecility and not art. Only white artists are capable of conceptual art production. Blacks have to stick to the obvious “speak about yourself in your work! Tell us how lesbian you are, how black you feel, etcetera. Only.”

I could go on. But to keep this short, the reason Ayanda Mabulu’s artwork didn’t cause ripples is because  as far as art is concerned a black artist is intellectually incapable of producing a complex work – blacks are incapable of satire – until they are verified by their white counterparts. No conceptualism, surrealism, avant-gardism, post-modernism or post-postmodernism in black art. Keep it simple. Black stories must always be kept straightforward so as to not confuse the white reader.

It is only when the African story is told through the white lens that newspapers and the general public will pay attention. There are so many black artists in this country producing artworks that are screaming to be heard. Producing artworks about township life, poverty, inequality and how government has failed them. But I am afraid, until the overwhelmingly white curators, educators and narrators of art decide that such work is also art, we will only see the Mabulus when said white curator and white art educators are trying to defend their Brett Murrays. Suddenly we hear, “but Ayanda Mabulu did it too!” oh, so all along you knew about Mabulu’s work but failed to heap it with praise like you do to the Murrays? Okay.

So once again, I would like to thank Brett Murray for his artwork that has put art on the media map once again. The lack of media attention to Fine Art is a disgrace in this country. Considering we have a long history of resistance art that contributed to the liberation of this country too.

Today, more than ever, I feel that art can be flung out of those white cube spaces such as the Goodman Gallery and into public discourse, much like The Spear has been thrown around – so that it challenges the public and stimulates this kind of debate. Art must and can challenge service delivery in this country. It can challenge corruption, even. But the problem is that no one will pay attention to such art when it comes from black artists and if it comes from a white artist it will be dismissed as racism or black contempt easily.

I am hoping that all of this will cast light on the plight of black artists who are not allowed, by artistic norms and art education to express themselves beyond my-identity-this-my-identity-that.

Fine Art, like many other spears spheres of the Arts plays a fundamental role in the development of a society.

I trust that the media will keep its ear on the Fine Art ground from here onwards. There are stories there.

p.s: if you’re wondering how this ties up with Eastern Cape education and this site’s theme – think of the many young black children who will never realise their dreams as artists there, because of all the problems I’ve listed herein. Oh, and Ayanda Mabulu is from the Eastern Cape – King Williams Town to be exact.

Mother fights for Xhosa Education

One of the cures education most needs in this country is mother-tongue teaching. So it was with a great sense of pride when the Daily Dispatch reported on a Xhosa parent taking a stand against Gonubie Primary School in East London – a school which seems hellbent on enforcing Afrikaans teaching on majority Xhosa-speaking children.

Earlier this year a petition against this very same practice was circulated – it reached the departments of Arts & Culture as well as Basic Education – and will be considered in the debates around the country’s Languages Bill.

IsiXhosa continues to be excluded as a first additional language at many former Model C schools in the Eastern Cape. Yet, chief amongst the many reforms towards a better education is the missing ingredient of mother tongue teaching…

Here’s the full report on the East London mother taking a stand against our children being taught in Afrikaans in the province:

By Msindisi Fengu

AN EAST London mother is suing a former Model C school and the Eastern Cape education department for allegedly enforcing Afrikaans and excluding Xhosa as the first additional language.

Ayanda Duma, whose two children are pupils at Gonubie Primary School, is also calling for the reversal of school governing body (SGB) election results, claiming the board was not voted in properly. Gonubie Primary was among 5 600 public schools across the province required to elect new SGBs last month.

While Duma is one of the first parents in the province to take legal action regarding language preference at schools since the new curriculum assessment policy (CAPS) was introduced this year, close to 200 black parents with children at Gonubie Primary are expected to lodge similar lawsuits. Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, Duma said the decision to have

Afrikaans as a first additional language at the school was going to prejudice the majority of the children at the school who were black.

She said more than 400 pupils were Xhosa speakers, 200 English and 70 Afrikaans.
The distraught mother said she had decided to take the matter to court after the department had backtracked from an initial agreement with parents to have both

Xhosa and Afrikaans taught at the school as first additional languages. This came after a delegation of officials were sent by education

MEC Mandla Makupula to resolve the impasse at the school earlier this year.
Black parents were also at loggerheads with the SGB following a decision to allegedly enforce Afrikaans while Xhosa was taken out of the school’s curriculum.

She said she got concerned when the previous SGB made the announcement, and wrote to school principal Cyril Prinsloo several times to register her frustrations.

Other black parents joined the protest and agreement was taken at a meeting with departmental officials from the head office in Zwelitsha to have both languages as first additional languages. It was further agreed that SGB elections should be suspended
pending the implementation of the language preference agreement. However, Duma claimed the agreement was dishonoured and SGB elections proceeded. According to information filed in the court papers, Duma claimed that white parents wanted to resist the implementation of the agreement reached with the department. She further alleged they didn’t want her on the SGB and as a result a process of electing new members
went ahead without the participation of black parents.

She said following that a document was circulated by Prinsloo endorsing the election of the new SGB as well as the efforts to have Afrikaans given recognition as the first additional language.
Duma said she had decided to approach the Equality Court and seek an order to:

1. Compel the department and school to dissolve the “undemocratically” elected SGB;
2.  Immediately suspend all functions of the SGB;
3.  Immediately suspend the implementation of the “unpopular decision to have Afrikaans granted a blanket recognition” as the first additional language; and
4. Unconditionally apologise to black parents who have been affected by the impasse.

She said black parents were disappointed with the department. “We are frustrated and some are discouraged with the conduct of department officials. I’ve decided to take the legal course because I have lost hope in the department. “District officials overruled the head office’s agreement. The whole thing does not make sense.” Duma said black parents were entitled to have options. “We are not saying the school must do away with Afrikaans, but that we have to be given an option within our rights to choose. “Officials from the department explained that we have an option to have both languages in the school’s curriculum and that the department will provide resources such as teachers and textbooks, but all that changed after the SGB elections.”

As things stand, Duma said Xhosa was not part of the school’s curriculum. Prinsloo would not comment on the matter and referred all questions to the department. The headmaster said he was also not “at liberty” to release contact details of SGB members.

Department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said an intervention would have to be made to find a solution. “We ’ve not received court papers, but what’s important is to find a solution. This is quite an emotive matter. We don’t want to rush, but we want to handle this with the necessary discretion and sensitivity to ensure everyone’s interests are served, ” said Pulumani. Basic education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi had told the Dispatch earlier this year that SGBs were allowed to decide on whether they wanted to offer an African language at their schools. However, Lesufi added that a new policy was under review with a view to make African languages compulsory at schools. It is expected to be introduced next year.

The above first appeared in the Eastern Cape’s Saturday Dispatch (21/04/2012).

Helen Zille and Eastern Cape Education Crisis

by Unathi Kondile

As the education crisis in the Eastern Cape takes its toll, there are some in our midst who have seen this as a proverbial gold mine. They have adorned themselves in all sorts of mining gear and headed on a looting spree – feeding off the miseries of our children’s education plight.

It was a sunny Tuesday morning (20/03/2012) as birds chirped outside and humans tweeted on Twitter when I came across a rather questionable early morning exchange between Premier Helen Zille (@HelenZille) and @Vuyisaq – the discussion was on education. I think it was around 7am. Two responses later Zille dropped the R-word. Now I am not implying that @Vuyisaq was in cahoots with Zille on deliberately igniting this campaign so early in the day. I’m not.

That was the beginning. I, personally, did not take offence to the use of this word, as its straightforward interpretation reflects reality.

As the day progressed, the R-word suddenly became a bone of contention. It then dawned on me that something was happening on Twitter. A ploy of sorts was panning out and working in favour of Helen Zille. Soon this R-word debate was going to hit mainstream media and pave the way for Helen Zille’s by-elections campaign trail in Port Elizabeth today (27/03/2012). As predicted all papers and online news sites were running this R-word spat, even the Eastern Cape’s Daily Dispatch ran it here.

Thank you Twitter. You’ve been darlings. One of the things we undermine about our politicians is that they possess the ability to think ahead – some employ thinkers and digital strategists in their teams, when the thinking gets tough. It would be stupid to think politicians are stupid.

The DA – working with all that young talent, backed by the University of the Democractic Alliance (UCT) – has found the pulse of social networks like Twitter.

Nothing Helen Zille says on Twitter is a mistake.

I repeat, nothing Helen Zille says on Twitter is a mistake.

Pleas like “can someone get that woman off Twitter!” or “Helen Zille must apologise!” are misguided and miss a crucial element of her strategy – that Twitter has become the shortcut into mainstream media for her. Helen Zille knows this and has used it on several occasions to her advantage.

Example 1: At a time when the City of Cape Town was being tarnished with another R-word (Racist), Zille deflected all this attention on Cape Town’s racism with two words: “Professional Black” – all anger was redirected to her, instead of Cape Town’s racism. Thus putting Cape Town’s racism to bed, once again.

Example 2: The Eastern Cape Education Refugees. Calling people “education refugees” was Zille’s well-timed way of gatecrashing the Eastern Cape education crisis whilst showcasing better education on offer in the Western Cape. It worked. Get noise on Twitter and the media (which seemingly camps on Twitter) will notice and put this in their papers.
However, news of a Twitter “Refugee” brouhaha reaching the Eastern Cape take on a different form of meaning once they’re outside Twitter. A different audience that is not privy to the pigsty that is Twitter will interpret these events differently.

To the eyes of the poor and those enduring the Eastern Cape education crisis Helen Zille is deadright. “Education is better in the Western Cape – we would like it too, maybe if she led the Eastern Cape we would have her kind of education” is a possible thought avenue.

Three days after her R-word utterance, on Twitter, guess where she was? Port Elizabeth. In blue shirts the DA marched against SADTU there. Needless to say the media saw this as an opportunity to interview her on her use of the R-word. Bear in mind that at this same time there was a massive racial war between coloureds and blacks in Grabouw, Western Cape. Yet again (as in Example 1), she was successfully deflecting attention from her province’s race problem with the simple use of a word: “Refugee.” The media’s writings and questioning remained pinned on her education comments, not so much on Grabouw. I believe the term for this is: Winning! For Zille this further became an opportunity to get onto TV – for free – and campaign via the media. The aim: Advertising that she cares and that she was now there to reassure potential Eastern Cape Education Refugees that she would take care of them. If they vote for her. Remember all it took was a tweet at 7am with @Vuyisaq. It boils down to thousands and thousands of rands worth of FREE campaigning. So well orchestrated was this plan that at the end of her campaigning in Port Elizabeth she took an Eastern Cape Health Refugee along with her and dumped ‘it’ in Khayelitsha hospital. She gloated and gloated about this on Twitter too – that the Eastern Cape Health department had failed this woman, hence she’d taken her to the Western Cape for treatment.

What does this all mean in the minds of the desperate?

It means Helen Zille is indeed the white messiah they’ve all been waiting for – she will give them a better education as well as transport them to better hospitals.

Do not underestimate Helen Zille’s use of Twitter.

It’s a strategy to get votes, backed by a serious team of social network savvy kids. If it means using the Eastern Cape’s education crisis as a ladder to votes then so be it. Heck, it’s an additional opportunity to mock the ANC’s poor governance in that province anyway. Just use Twitter – the medium of mass thinking and mass gullibility – and the media will do the rest for you.

It would be wise not to get distracted by such techniques. And focus on the real problem:

The Eastern Cape has an education crisis on its hands and we need to mobilise parents and communities to engage government themselves. Our people must learn to do things for themselves. They must get angry and do something about that anger. The sooner our people feel and understand that they too can effect change with their voices to government the sooner we can begin to have an active citizenry that will claim its share of this country.

Mother Tongue Teaching Boost

For all the problems in the Eastern Cape, recent developments in the province suggest ways to surmount persistent problems regarding language use in the classroom.

In South Africa the official language-medium policy for schools rests on what is termed mother tongue-based bilingual education. In essence, this policy advocates that pupils acquire high levels of proficiency in African languages as well as in English and it is aimed at developing bilingual and multilingual citizens.

However, there is insufficient political will in South Africa to implement a language in education policy across all provinces that is sufficiently based on the mother tongue.

Legislative and policy frameworks such as the South African Schools Act (1996) and the language in education policy (1997), among others, empower education departments and school communities to provide mother tongue-based education — the optimal learning environment. But speakers of African languages — and this category includes low-prestige varieties of Afrikaans — generally have only three years of schooling in their mother tongue, whereas mother-tongue speakers of English and many Afrikaans-speakers experience what language expert Neville Alexander has called “mother-tongue education from cradle to university”.

The Eastern Cape education department is now taking the project of multilingual education much further than many other provinces are.

Last year it launched a project to advance mother tongue-based education to the first six years of schooling. With the sustained initiative of two successive Eastern Cape education ministers, Mahlubandile Qwase and Mandla Makupula, the department now has an office that has implemented this project to run to 2016. Its aims include using isiXhosa primarily and, in fewer schools, Sesotho for the first six years of schooling and introducing English from grade one onwards. Implementation is being conducted incrementally in 23 school districts and should cover all public schools in the province by 2016.

The project is complex for a number of reasons, not least widespread prejudice against African languages. This is shaped by the hegemony of English, which conditions many to feel sceptical about the power of African languages to function in a knowledge-based society.

As a central policy, the project therefore includes ongoing advocacy that all African languages are capable mediums for the highest of any society’s functions, such as education.

History bears this out. Any language is able to evolve to national or international significance if, for instance, it is girded by military and political force.

I am not, of course, advocating military action but instead, self-determination and linguistic expansion. The history of Afrikaans provides a good example because it entailed a counterhegemonic movement against the power of English, launched in the first half of the 20th century. At the time, it carried low status in the public domain, but it was elevated to a symbol of national power and became an instrument capable of highly sophisticated scientific and cultural expression.

Similarly, the broader intention of the Eastern Cape project is to contribute to the intellectualisation of African languages so that they eventually function alongside English in high-status functions such as teaching and learning and in complex scientific innovation.

The historical rise of Afrikaans contains a significant irony when it is compared with the Eastern Cape initiative. Mother-tongue education became official apartheid-state policy with the Bantu Education Act in 1953. This Act was framed by a separatist ideology and was geared to exclude African-language speakers from participation in the economic and political domains of life.

Schooling and language policy were used as instruments to keep the oppressed backward. Primary schooling in the mother tongue was extended to eight years as part of the apartheid intention to keep people within demarcated boundaries. Kathleen Heugh, a scholar of language policy in South Africa, has shown how this language-medium policy eventually led to better schooling results for all — including those discriminated against by the apartheid government.

The pass rates of matriculants who were African-language speakers increased from 43.5% in 1955 to 83.7% in 1976, her research, which was published in 2003, found. Using African languages and having committed teachers made academic success possible for those cohorts of matriculants.

Heugh’s research also observed that apartheid architects were (naturally) unaware that, three decades down the line from the 1950s, international research would reveal that the way they had applied their language in education policy was precisely what produced good academic results and bilingual citizens.

Textbooks in isiXhosa and other languages were produced, children were taught in their mother tongue for eight years and they were being taught English very well as a subject. Matriculants emerged proficient in both the mother tongue and English.

The post-apartheid government turned all separatist policies on their head and legislated a multilingual language policy that, when applied to education, meant a mother- tongue approach. But, as a nation, we underestimated the aftermath of moedertaalonderwys (mother- tongue education) in one central way: it symbolised backwardness for most people because of the history of Bantu education. And so English became the language of aspiration, liberation and politics.

That is why addressing language attitudes is one of the fundamental tasks faced in projects such as the one the Eastern Cape is pioneering. Using African languages for the highest functions in society is a prerequisite if democracy is to reflect the social and linguistic realities of South Africans.

More concretely, working towards education based on the mother tongue-bilingual model is essentially a nation-building task in that it seeks to evolve a society that develops confidence and competence in the majority of the population.

The Eastern Cape project’s concurrent activities take place in schools, districts and the policymaking spaces in the provincial government. These activities include eliciting support from publishing houses to produce textbooks in African languages, considering how to train teachers afresh, orienting officials on how to support schools, guiding schools’ language policy processes and bringing parents on board to play an active role.

The language of teaching and learning is not the only factor that has a bearing on educational outcomes but, with knowledgeable, disciplined and caring teachers, it is probably the most significant variable. This is a provincial project but it has nationwide implications: it seeks to address systematically a national dilemma of language-medium practices in schooling.

The following first appeared in the Mail & Guardian (16 March 2012), written by Daryl Braam – an education specialist in the Eastern Cape Socioeconomic Consultative Council

Ubuhlanga beeDyunivesithi


Ndikhe ndathi tshe isibhalwana esimalunga neengxoxo ze –“Admissions Policy” yalapha kwiDyunivesithi yaseKapa. Umongo wesisibhalo ibikukumema abafundi, abaqeshwa kunye nabakwisidlangalala ukuba bathathe inxaxheba ekutshintsheni indlela le Dyunivesithi ingenisa ngayo abafundi abasuka kumasapho awawephantsi kwengcinezelo yocalu-calulo.

Sithetha nje umntwana omnyama uyakwazi ukungena eUCT ngamanqaku asezantsi kunawomntwana omhlophe, okanye owangaphesheya kolwandle. Lento ke ikwasiso nesilungiselelo sabo bathe bangcamla imfundo yezinga eliphantsi kwizikolo zaselokishini nasezilalini, kodwa benempawo zobukrelekrele. Kunjalo nje, mna andiboni ngxaki kolundlela-ngeniso.
Ngoba akukho bulingani-manani bobuhlanga kuleDyunivesithi. Uninzi labantwana abanyama, baseMzants’ Afrika, abakwazi ukungena ngenxa yokufumana imfundo engacacanga kwizikolo ezazidalelwe ukuba zenze njalo – zinike umntwana omnyama imfundo engacacanga. ‘de kulungiswe ezozikolo kwaye nemfundiso yazo ibekumgangatho olingana noweeModel C andiboni ukuba singazitshintsha njani iindlela zongeniso kuleDyunivesithi. Singxamele phi mhlawumbi? Ubulingani singekabufumani?

Bambi bathile bathi, “kodwa bakhona abantwana abamnyama abafunda kwezizikolo zamabhulu okanye izikolo zobuModel C. Bona bangabalingani nje!” Kulapho ke mna ndinokuthi endaweni yokujonga uhlanga lomfundi ofuna indawo kwiDyunivesithi, kunganjani ke ukuba singakhe sisebenzise iingingqi namahlelo ezizikolo abaphuma kuzo ababafundi? Endaweni yokuthi “umnyama, uzakungena lula!” kutheni singaqwalaseli mhlawumbi ukuba “usuka eTranskei okanye kwiilali zakwaZulu Natala okanye ebugxwayibeni baseLimpopo njalo-njalo – ngoko wena ungakwazi ukungena ngamanqaku asezantsi kunawabanye!”?

Ay’pheli apho ke – ngoba asakungena loomfundi umnyama, unamanqaku aphantsi, ingaba yona iDyunivesithi le imenzela malungiselelo mani ukuze akwazi ukufikelela kwizinga labo bebefunda kwizikolo eziphucukileyo? Yheke! Ayibenzeli nto! Tu! Suke kuthethwe ngeenqubo zeeExtended Degrees nton’ nton, apho umfundi ezibona ethatha iminyaka emibini ukwenza isifundo ekumel’ba sithatha unyaka omnye qha. Osogqiba kothukwe xa engaphumeleli. 

Ingaba iDyunivesithi ithatha manyathelo athini okuqinisekisa ukuba lomfundi, umnyama, uziva emnkelekile? Ngoba maxesha-maninzi ingxaki ayizozifundo ezohlula umfundi waselokishini okanye ezilalini xa eseDyunivesithi. Ixesha elininzi into eyohlula umfundi omnyama yingxaki yobuntu beeDyunivesithi – ubuntu beDyunivesithi bumhlophe kuqala, abukhathali, umntu uzimela ngenkqayana yakhe elangeni, njalo-njalo – andithi ke umntwana omyama ufuna ukukokoswa, abanjwe isandla kodwa ndizama ukuthi olutshintsho lwendlela yokuphila nokuthethathethisana nabantu abadala ngongathi ngabalingani nokunqaba kwezinto ezifana nembheko nezimilo zakha ekubeni umntwana omnyama azive elilolo okanye indwendwe elingamnkelekanga. Nditsho neelwimi zokufundisa – isiNgesi esi sikhe sithande ukuba yenye nje ingxaki kubo ngoba kaloku wofika iiDyunivesithi ziqesha abantu baphesheya kwamalwandle abakhumsha ngeendlela ezingaqhelekanga. Ufikise ukubana umfundi omnyama uyayazi lento kuthethwa ngayo kodwa akazithembanga ngokwaneleyo ukuba abuze imibuzo okanye asabelisise xa ebhidwa sesisiNgesi. Ingaba na iDyunivesithi le yenza malungiselelo mani ukuba ilungise ezizinto?

Phamb’ kokuba sithethe ngokutshintsha ii-“Admissions Policy” zeDyunivesithi yaseKapa, kunganjani ukuba siqale sithethe ngalemiba ndiyiphawule apha?

Kwaye kwalento yokugibisela ezingxoxo zimalunga nongeniso kwabafundi kwiDyunivesithi, esidlangalaleni ndiyibona iyingxaki.

Ngubani isidlangalala?

Kwaye ngoobani abazakukwazi ukuthatha inxaxheba kwezingxoxo, kwesisidlangalala? Ngababantu bafikelela kumacing’omoya (i-internet) nabantu abafunda amaphepha-ndaba – uninzi lawo lomaphepha abhalelwa abantu abamhlophe ngesiNgesi sabo. Lilonke ke xa sithetha ngesidlangalala kulomba wongeniso kwiDyunivesithi, sithetha ngesidlangalala esimhlophe. Uninzi lwezimvo kulomba wongeniso zizakusuka kubantu abamhlophe, kubantu abahleli bengayixhasi yonke lento yokulungisa izivubeko zamandulo. Abantu abakhala ngoo-“get over the past already!” qho xa kuthethwa ngemiba edibene nobuhlanga.

Ingaba ke iUCT iwusa esidlangalaleni lomba ngeenjongo zokuba esisidlangalala (ebesenditshilo ukuba luninzi lumhlophe) luzakuyiguqula yonke lento? Kubuyelwe kundlela-ndala olungiselela abo bafunde kwizikolo eziphucukileyo kuphela? Yingxaki leyo. Kwaye iyakhathaza into yokuba le-“Admissions Policy” ingasiwa nakwiilali, emaholweni asekuhlaleni nasezilokishini – izakuphelela kwii”Online submissions” nakwabo bathe bathenga lamaphepha-ndaba athetha nohlanga olunye kuphela.

Ingaba iUCT yenza ngabom’ xa isenza kanje? Ingaba mhlawumbi yona kuqala ifuna ukutshintsha ezindlela zongeniso? Zibuyele kundlela-ndala olungiselela abamhlophe kuqala?

Ndicinga njalo.