Government moves ahead with plans to ‘decolonise’ South African schools

The decolonisation of South African schools remains a key priority for the government, says Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga.

Presenting her departmental budget speech, Motshekga said that this decolonisation process would take place through the teaching and promotion of African languages, South African and African history and national symbols to all learners up to Grade 12.

It will also include a current revision of the current history curriculum, she said.

“The reappointed Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on History has commenced the writing of a revised History curriculum,” she said.

“After broad consultations, the MTT will commence with the writing of new textbooks for Grade 4-12 History, which are in-line with the new History curriculum. To prepare the system for this innovation, rigorous teacher training will be carried out.”

Language of instruction

In line with the National Development Plan, Motshekga said that learners’ Home Language should be used as a language of learning and teaching for longer; while English must be introduced much earlier in the Foundation Phase.

“It is important to remind South African languages are protected by our Constitution, and our policies recognise this fact,” she said.

“There is a growing body of current research on African languages that confirms that the orthographies and the linguistic structures of African languages, are unique and different to the English language. As a result we have conceptualised reading methodologies that speak to African languages. The language issue, is a key factor that impacts on reading and literacy outcomes.”

Motshekga said that the first new African language to be introduced will be Kiswahili. This will be followed by other languages in the next five years.

Chairperson and Honourable Members, I am delighted to announce that the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) agreed to incrementally introduce Kiswahili in our schools. There is a high level of enthusiasm about this. Kenya and Tanzania have committed to assist with the training of educators and the development of appropriate learning and teaching support materials in Kiswahili.

“In 2017, the Council of Education Ministers approved the implementation of the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) in all schools not offering a previously marginalised official African Language,” she said.

“About 2,600 schools were targeted, and 82% of these schools are now implementing the IIAL. IIAL will be implemented incrementally from Grade 1 to Grade 7 by 2024.”


Read: Big changes coming to South African schools

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Government moves ahead with plans to ‘decolonise’ South African schools