Afrikaans to be taught in Dubai

South African children in Dubai will soon be able to do Afrikaans as a subject.

When the new school year starts in September, the Scholars International Academy, a new school, will open its doors to children of all nationalities - and they can take Afrikaans as a subject.

There will also be four South African teachers, including one who will introduce rugby and cricket to the youngsters.

Manda Hamman, public relations and marketing officer at the new school, was in Pretoria on holiday.

She said there were about 50 000 South Africans in Dubai.

So far about 100 children have enrolled at the school, 15 of them Afrikaans-speaking.

"It is an international school which an Indian woman, Aparna Verma, has built on seven acres. It is on the border of Dubai and Sharjah.

On the first day the parents will plant palm trees on the school grounds and a plate with each child's name will be attached to the trees," she said.

Using a UK curriculum, they believe in mother-tongue education. However, every pupil must also study Arabic.

And they will be able to have two periods a week of Afrikaans as a subject.

Hamman said there would be a beginner's level, where the young ones (children have to attend school from three years of age) will learn Afrikaans rhymes and songs.

From Grade 1 they will be taught how to read and write it.

Older non-Afrikaans speaking pupils will also do the entry level, but the Afrikaans teacher will give additional classes after school.

Hamman said there was so much pressure from Afrikaans parents to have the language as a subject in schools that the Scholars International Academy realised that a need existed for it in this Arab country.

"Every nationality represented at the school will also get a special day where they can introduce the other children to their culture. They can perform songs, dances, eat traditional food and wear traditional clothes," Hamman said.

Two of the South African teachers will be class teachers, another will teach drama and the fourth, a male, will teach physical education, rugby and cricket.

The school has even distributed pamphlets in Afrikaans.

When Hamman went to Dubai with her husband eight years ago, she never expected to become an "Afrikaans matriarch".

Two years later, she and a friend started the South African Women's Association, helping other South African women adapt and make friends.

Two years ago, Hamman and an Afrikaans dominee started an Afrikaans church. It has now grown from 14 members to 300.

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