The Current Status of African Lanuages in Education

CentrPol Research Project. Second Workshop
12 March 2010

9:00 – 16:00 – Room B110, Aldoel Building, Groenkloof Campus, University of Pretoria


According to the national language policy, learners in SA ought to receive instruction in their mother-tongue during the first three years of formal compulsory schooling (Foundation Phase). However, in opposition to well-researched evidence that MT instruction yields better results in terms of cognitive development, in many cases where the policy is implemented and where African languages are used, learner achievement is still not adequate. This can be explained by many factors, including poverty, lack of appropriate material, teachers lacking qualification and motivation, but perhaps there are also issues pertaining to the way MT instruction is conceived and implemented.

The workshop includes a central panel where some of these issues will be debated by stakeholders and players in the field.



Chair for morning session: Prof. Vic Webb, CentRePoL, UP


Welcoming and opening: Prof. Hennie Stander, Deputy Dean, Humanities, UP



Dr. Cas Prinsloo (HSRC): The influence of the broader context of language and literacy development for teaching in SA: educational, societal and cultural issues



Dr. Thabesile Mbatha (UKZN): Training teachers of Zulu for the Foundation Phase


10:30- 12:30

Panel discussion: Is the policy of mother-tongue education working?

  • Dr. Rinelle Evans, Faculty of Education, UP: Introductory overview: Learner profile of a school in Sunnyside, Pretoria.
  • Biki Lepota, Statistical Information and Research, Umalusi: Research findings: The factors influencing parents’ choice of LoLT.
  • Mr Emmanuel Sibanda, Statistical Information and Research, Umalusi: Research findings: Difference in performance as a result of LoLT.

Panel contributions:

  • Ms Bernadine Camp, Gauteng Department of EducationNational Department of Basic Education
  • Mr Mahlomola Kekana (Chairperson of the National Association of Parents in School Governance)
  • Mr Steve Moropane (Education Convenor: SADTU Tshwane Region)
  • Dr Tom Sengani (Department of African Languages, Unisa)
  • Mr M.H. Mathebe (Principal, Legora Primary School, Mamelodi)


Chair for afternoon session: Dr. Michel Lafon, Ifas/CentRePoL, UP


Ms Tsaone Mokgwathi (PhD student, UP): Code-switching in Botswana secondary schools



Ms Tuna Gidane (PASA): The state of text book provision in African languages



Panel discussion: The issue of technical terms in content teaching in African languages

  • Prof. Elsabe Taljaard (Department of African Languages, UP)
  • Ms. Hatu Machaba (National Language Service, DAC)
  • Representative of PanSALB (tbc)



Closing discussion


Organised by CentRePoL, the French Institute of South Africa and Umalusi Hosted by the Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria