LANGUAGE POLICY NOT A LEARNING BARRIER’

Cathy Labuschagne

DA Western Cape spokesperson for Education of Western Cape Provincial Parliament

The Minister of Education in the Western Cape, Donald Grant, and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) are serious about continuously looking to improve on the current language policy whilst keeping the focus on what is best for the learners. This follows a presentation to the Standing Committee on Education in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament today, 10 April 2012.

As DA Western Cape spokesperson for Education, I welcome the emphasis which is being placed on the appropriate training for implementation of the policy.

Deciding on a language policy for a school is a stipulated function of the School Governing Bodies (SGB’s). Therefore, it is encouraging to hear that there is training courses available to newly elected SGB’s. I implore all SGB’s in the province to prioritise training of members, as facilitated by the WCED, in order to perform their important duties efficiently and effectively. I also urge SGB’s to adequately communicate any problems through the appropriate WCED structures for these to be addressed and resolved.

The WCED has also reconfirmed its commitment to continuous teacher development and training. This will help address the language challenge across the curriculum. Teachers, who are knowledgeable in their subject, should also have the required language skills to convey the message appropriately. The various reading materials available for use in the classrooms could also be a start to develop language skills which match subject knowledge.

I support the promotion of Mother-tongue as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) for Grades 1 – 3. Concurrently, I support the notion of language switching at a young age as a key element to the success of CAPS as explained by Western Cape Minister Grant.

The use of quality language is important as a foundation for learners to build on. I applaud the realisation, and the work already done, for this foundation to extend to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) of children in the Western Cape through addressing the issue transversally by the Department of Education and the Department of Social Development.

Looking forward, I welcome the assistance the technological platform of e-education/i-education will provide in the future. Until then, I call on our parents in the Province, to establish a love for reading as medium to develop language in children. I urge parents to make the correct decision when it comes to the language preference for their children. I also challenge parents to become empowered in the use of quality language to empower their children with the necessary language skills for the future.

I congratulate the WCED and Minister Grant on the work done thus far.

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