Between policy ideal and success falls the shadow: the challenge of building a literate culture in African home languages and providing access to English

Between policy ideal and success falls the shadow: the challenge of building a literate culture in African home languages and providing access to English

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Between policy ideal and success falls the shadow: the challenge of building a literate culture in African home languages and providing access to English

The South African Constitutions enshrines the right to basic education for all, mentioning both children and adults. It is specific about learners’, right to ‘,receive education in the official language(s) of their choice in public educational institutions’, (Constitution, 29.1 –, 29.2), and identifies eleven major languages as ‘,official’,. These languages are to ‘,enjoy parity of esteem and must be treated equitably’,. (Constitution, 6.1 –, 6.4). The reality in education reflects a situation which serves neither the languages nor the majority of the speakers of these languages. While the South African Language in Education policy (1997) indicates that ‘,the Department of ,Education…,is tasked…,to promote multilingualism, the development of the official languages, and respect for all languages used in the country’, and that ‘,the underlying principle is to maintain ,home language(s) while providing access to effective acquisition of additional language(s)’,, ,current strategies do not support the home language nor create conditions appropriate for learning additional languages effectively .This paper considers the proposed mandatory introduction of English for all children whose home language is not English in Grade 1. It considers too the implications of findings in a report on the status of the language of learning and teaching in South African public schools (2010) published by the Department of Basic ,Education.

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