Compulsory African language policy for schools in 2017

Gauteng schools will be spearheading a new language policy in 2017 that will make it compulsory for all grade 1 pupils to take an African language as a second additional language subject, according to a report by The New Age.

Afrikaans would still form part of the languages available, the report said, but as there are now three language subjects, other African languages beyond English and Afrikaans must be taken.

According to the Gauteng education department, the policy, called the Incremental Introduction of the African Languages (IIAL), is still being finalised, but will ultimately help pupils in basic education have a more positive attitude towards school.

In 2017, the policy will be trialed at 12 schools in Gauteng, where 16 teachers have been allocated. Once the trial is over, a budget will be made available for a full roll-out, the New Age reported.

Under the IIAL, from grade 1 to grade 3, pupils will now have five compulsory subjects:

  1. Home language
  2. First additional language
  3. Second additional language
  4. Mathematics
  5. Life skills

These subjects will be carried through to grade 12 (with Life Skills becoming Life Orientation from grade 7, onwards).

In grades 1-9, learners must pass the third required official language at first additional language level at achievement level 3 (40-49%).

In the FET Phase, the third required official language must be passed at level 2 (30-39%) provided that the official language at home language level has been passed at level 3 (40-49%), the department said.

It has been proposed that an additional 2 hours of instruction time per week be added to pupils in grade 1 and 2 to make room for the new languages – and additional 3 hours for grade 3.

For the intermediate and senior phases, an additional 5 hours per week should be added, taking the average school day up from 5.5 hours a day to 6.5 hours a day.

One of the biggest criticisms and challenges faced by the second additional language policy is the lack of skilled teachers available to take on all of South Africa’s official languages.

Aside from localising classes (teaching the dominant additional language of the area), the department also proposed two other solutions:

In a cosmopolitan area wherein all languages are found, schools may be designated to offer specific languages. There would be dominant languages side to side with minority languages.

In instances where there are very few learners for particular languages scattered across a phase, the multi-grade model can be ideal. Learners from different grades can be brought into one class and taught by one teacher.

More on language

Dysfunctional education system is apartheid’s fault: Education MEC

Stellenbosch University ordered to teach in Afrikaans

These are the most spoken languages in South Africa

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Follow us


Compulsory African language policy for schools in 2017