Patriotic Alliance bid to prevent Shona classes at city school

Members of the Patriotic Alliance protest outside Esikhisini Primary School in Saulsville. l SUPPLIED

Members of the Patriotic Alliance protest outside Esikhisini Primary School in Saulsville. l SUPPLIED

Published Feb 19, 2024


Principals are allowed to apply for foreign languages to be taught at their respective schools, the Gauteng Department of Education has said.

Esikhisini Primary School in Saulsville, Atteridgeville is under fire for enrolling a large number of Zimbabwean learners. Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Last Monday, the Patriotic Alliance (PA) staged a protest at Esikhisini Primary School in Saulsville to prevent management from introducing Zimbabwean language Shona to the curriculum.

PA deputy president Kenny Kunene said the demonstration was primarily aimed at preventing the teaching of Shona at Esikhisini.

The party argued that Shona is not part of the official curriculum, and that the department should not entertain such requests.

Zimbabweans reportedly constitute 20% of Esikhisini's population according to Kunene, who held talks with school management during the picket.

“This is a public school; Shona is not in the curriculum we are here to demonstrate our anger and dissatisfaction at what they are trying to do to our community,” he said.

Kunene, who is also campaigning for the premiership of Gauteng in this year’s general election, said South Africans should be prioritised at the school.

The party also made a call for the chairperson of the school governing body to be removed.

Xolani Mkhwente, spokesperson for MEC for Education Matome Chiloane, said the department had not received any formal application for the introduction of Shona language from the school.

“According to our records, 20% of learners at Esikhisini are foreign nationals and all learners admitted in accordance with the admissions regulations.”

Mkhwente said the department uses the online system to process such applications, and no special preference is given to foreign nationals at the expense of South Africans.

He also added that formal application must be submitted to the department accompanied by minutes of both parents and governing body meetings wherein a resolution was taken to introduce that subject and the number of learners who will be taking the subject, and availability of teaching materials should be taken into consideration.

The Pretoria News was informed that the principal of the school wrote to the Tshwane South District requesting a meeting about the matter.

The letter read in part “residents of Atteridgeville gathered at the gate and demanded to see the principal for the immediate removal of the SGB chairperson and detailed explanation of the admissions of foreign learners.”

It was further stated that the residents promised to mobilise the community if they did not received a meeting date.

SGB elections at the school have been scheduled for March 6.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said that the demonstration by the PA was noted, but the call for removing Zimbabwean learners from the school was ill-informed.

“It should be clear at this point that the school made no application to the department for Shona to be taught. When it comes to whether foreign languages should be taught in South African schools, you may recall that South Africa became one of the first countries in Africa to introduce Mandarin into our curriculum,” he said.

Makaneta also said the introduction of Mandarin has set a precedence, and it may be difficult to reject other foreign languages should a need arise.

He also added that no child should be removed from the school, and that both South African and Zimbabwean children have a right to be taught.

At the beginning of the year, the PA led by Gayton McKenzie, was at the border of South African and Zimbabwe preventing Zimbabweans from entering the country illegally.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently highlighted the issue of undocumented foreign nationals, saying it was impacting the country’s social and economic landscape with tension rising within local communities over access to social services.

Pretoria News

Lesego Montso

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