Pupils forced to learn Afrikaans

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Copy of ND J MTHETHWA2 DAILY NEWS Joyce Mtetwa is angry that the principal at her daughter's school has cancelled a Zulu class without consulting parents. PICTURE: SIYANDA MAYEZA

Durban - An angry mother is at her wits’ end after the principal cancelled a Grade 10 Zulu class at Belverton Secondary School in oThongathi.

Joyce Mtetwa, 49, of Belvedere, said this move had affected her daughter Zimitha, a pupil at the school.

She claimed the principal had failed to consult with parents before taking the decision.

He had told parents his decision had been based on the low number of enrolments for the subject, said Mtetwa.

“I do not buy his explanation. Our children are now forced to learn Afrikaans. The school is located next to the shacks which has quite a number of Zulu learners enrolled at the school,” she said.

“Towards the end of last year, our children filled in forms to select their subjects for Grade 10. This decision was taken after the selection was made. It was not done in consultation with us.”

But principal Uthamaganthan Chetty denied the accusations.

He insisted that enrolment numbers for Zulu had been low and that the decision was in accordance with the department’s policy.

“I have repeatedly told them the school does not have numbers to start the class. To say that I am favouring Afrikaans is inappropriate. We had about 12 learners for the class which is far less than what the department requires,” said Chetty.

He said the school had a Zulu teacher who could teach Grade 10. But, according to the department’s policy, the schools need to have about 35 pupils for a language subject.

“Our school does offer Zulu language classes in both Grade 7 and 9,” said Chetty.

According to Mtetwa, the principal encouraged parents to send their children to Nkosibomvu Secondary School, also in oThongathi, to learn Zulu.

She said this would incur travelling costs which would drain the poor parents financially.

“My eldest daughter passed Zulu with a distinction in 2013. Now Zimitha’s (future) could be compromised. She learnt Zulu at primary school level. Learning Afrikaans now is going to compromise her,” said Mtetwa.

Department of Education head Nkosinathi Sishi said the policy dictated that one teacher was needed for a class of 32 pupils. But it did not mean that a class with fewer pupils should be stopped.

“It looks like the problem has been communication between teachers, parents and school governing body. We will send our official to the school to help them find a solution to this. But we cannot force the school to have Zulu classes. It could only happen through dialogue,” said Sishi.

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