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Parents accuse schools of using Afrikaans language to cover up racism

716 supporters of Equal Education sing outside the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

716 supporters of Equal Education sing outside the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Published Jul 6, 2022


Mashudu Sadike

Parents in Limpopo have accused schools using Afrikaans as their language of instruction in the classroom to deny non-speaking learners access to the schools and as a “cover-up” for their “racist exclusive reasons”.

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They have also accused the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Limpopo of dragging its feet after they filed a complaint with the chapter 9 institution in 2020.

The parents are also demanding that the Afrikaans public schools, which include Oosskool primary, Pietersburg Laerskool and Pietersburg Hoërskool, change their policy to a dual medium of instruction.

Speaking to “Pretoria News” yesterday, a parent and community leader, Maxwell Modiba, from Bendoor in Polokwane, vented his frustrations of not being able to take his child to a nearby school because of Afrikaans being imposed.

“We want to take our children to these schools because of the close proximity to our residence. However, we can’t, because they are forced to learn in Afrikaans while they speak a different language at home.

“These schools are using the language matter as an excuse to keep non-Afrikaans-speaking children out of their schools. They are hiding behind language to practise their racism.”

Modiba, a father of a 6-year-old, was told his child would have to learn subjects in Afrikaans at Oosskool primary. He said despite writing to the SAHRC and the public protector, their complaints had fallen on deaf ears.

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“We are just asking that the schools have a dual medium of instruction in these public schools, but the SAHRC has closed the file after two years of doing nothing, but we have since appealed the matter,” Modiba said.

Limpopo Education Department spokesperson Mike Maringa said the language policy depends on the number of admitted learners in that particular school.

“The demand for dual language has financial implications because a position for an educator for the new subject must be created and must be funded.”

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The SAHRC in their closing letter seen by “Pretoria News” states: “After assessment of the matter as well the fact that the school governing body is empowered to determine language policy and there is no information before the SAHRC that shows that the school admission unfairly discriminates on prohibited grounds. Therefore, the SAHRC has discontinued its handling of this matter and our file on this matter will be closed.”