Durban -

Most South African pupils prefer to be taught in English and Afrikaans, according to a report released by the Basic Education Department.

This is after 65 percent of pupils enrolled at school in 2011 named English as their preferred language of instruction, with 10 percent opting for Afrikaans, 7.5 percent for Zulu and 6.6 percent for Xhosa.

The department released its latest Annual School Surveys report this week, which contains statistics on various aspects of the schooling system.

It said that in 2011, when 26 percent of pupils spoke Zulu at home, only 6 percent indicated that they wanted to be taught in Zulu.

The figures confirmed a report by the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit earlier this year, the first to focus on teaching and learning in grades 1 to 3.

It stated that parents were increasingly opting for their children to be taught in English and Afrikaans.

Asked if it was best for English to be the medium of instruction for all children from their first year at school, Professor Elizabeth Henning, the director of the Centre for Education Practice Research at the University of Johannesburg, had reservations.

“At our research school in Soweto there is a dual language approach, which seems to be working quite well… Gradually they move to English, especially in maths. But the home language is maintained as a medium of explanation where needed,” Henning said.

But children differed and so did classrooms and, in instances in which there were nine home languages in one class, a single common language seemed to be the answer.

Last year, the Basic Education Department introduced English as a compulsory first additional language in all African language-speaking schools.

The Mercury