Feebearing - Cape Town - 140407 - Minister Donald Grant attended the first isiXhosa class at Montevideo Primary School in Valhalla Park as part of the new pilot project to introduce Xhosa into schools from Grade 1. Pictured: Minister Donald Grant(left) and isiXhosa teacher Nomonde Windvoel teaching with puppets. REPORTER: ILSE FREDERICKS. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.

Cape Town - The principal of a Montana primary school hopes that learning Xhosa will improve his Grade 1 pupils’ future job prospects.

With the help of teacher Nomonde Windvoel and hand puppets Thando and Thandeka, Grade 1 pupils at Montevideo Primary quickly mastered the words molo, molweni and titshalakazi (teacher) during their first Xhosa lesson on Monday.

The school and nine others in the province are participating in a national pilot programme aimed at introducing “previously marginalised” African languages in schools at which an African language has not been offered.

Principal Terence Timmet said being able to speak Xhosa could one day give his pupils the edge over other candidates when applying for jobs.

“Our hope is that it (the project) will be extended for years to come so that our learners from all race groups in the Western Cape can benefit equally from the language tuition.”

Windvoel said whether the pupils decided to become doctors or lawyers, mastering Xhosa would benefit them.

Education MEC Donald Grant, who visited the school on Monday, said various factors, including the composition of the pupil population and academic performance were considered when identifying schools for the project.

Grant said four teachers had been appointed for the pilot and a fifth would be appointed this week.

“The teachers appointed are trained isiXhosa teachers and will each visit two or three schools to provide the lessons in Grade 1.”

He said the pupils’ (class) teachers were also looking forward to learning Xhosa.

Books for the pilot have been provided by the Department of Basic Education.

Grant said the provincial Education Department supported the pilot project but future roll-out would be determined at a later stage.

“We’ll be in a better position to evaluate the programme when it has been running for several months.”

The other primary schools participating in the pilot are Zonnebloem Boys’, Cecil Road, Good Hope Seminary Junior, Vorentoe, Belhar, Simon’s Town, West End, Kraaifontein AME and Square Hill.

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Cape Argus