The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has denied reports that the pilot project on the Incremental Introduction of African Languages Policy has failed to commence.
To say that “The Department of Basic Education Plans to introduce mandatory lessons in indigenous languages across junior classes at primary schools have failed to take off” is inaccurate in the light of the fact that (a) these classes are only being piloted and (b) the pilot is only a few weeks old. It is far too soon to judge the success or otherwise of the pilot.
In order to plan effectively for the implementation of this major initiative, the Department of Basic Education announced in 2012 that full implementation will be preceded by a pilot in Grade 1 classes in selected schools in each province in 2014. The IIAL policy will then be implemented incrementally, commencing in Grade 1 in 2015 and continuing until 2026 when it will be implemented in Grade 12. It was announced that the introduction of IIAL into Grade R will not be implemented at this stage – only from Grade 1.
The pilot project is targeting the introduction of the previously marginalised African languages in schools where an African language is presently not offered. Presently plans are underway for the pilot implementation in Grade 1, commencing 1 February until 31 October 2014. The DBE has completed the training of the IIAL National Core Training Team in October 2013 and has developed Workbooks and other resources to support the pilot implementation. These have been delivered to provinces.
Provinces are in the process of finalizing the appointment of pilot school teachers and delivering provincial teacher training workshops and on-going support for the pilot schools. The appointment of pilot school teachers has taken longer than expected in some provinces and, as a result, the teaching of the third language is only just starting at some schools. However in other schools it is already happening with very positive feedback.
The purpose of the pilot is to identify challenges in the implementation of IIAL in order to inform full scale implementation in 2015. The DBE is carefully noting the challenges and the strategies provinces are using to resolve them to prevent similar happenings in 2015. Hence, the statement in the article is totally out of order.
The IIAL Policy and pilot implementation have been discussed in numerous internal and external for a including HEDCOM, the Education Labour Relations Council, the South African Principals’ Association (SAPA), Teacher Unions and the National Consultative Forum (NCF).
At each forum, presentations were made and the critical issues emerging from the discussions are being considered in the finalisation of the Policy. Further to this, the HEDCOM sub-Committee on Teacher Development and Curriculum Management which includes representatives from teacher unions, SAQA, UMALUSI, Independent Schools, the IEB in addition to representatives from provincial education departments discusses a range of curriculum issues at each of its quarterly meetings, including the Incremental Introduction to African Languages and every step of the pilot process as was discussed and agreed on. The consensus at all these consultations was that ensuring that all South African can speak at least one of the previously marginalized African languages was a national imperative.
The IIAL draft policy was also sent to all stakeholders and uploaded on the website for public comment. On 11 November 2013 the DBE released the IIAL draft policy, inviting comments from stakeholder bodies and members of the public. The closing date for comments was 12 February 2014. Presently the comments are being analyzed but they are very much in favour of offering African languages in schools, together with suggestions and advice to inform the implementation in 2015. Hence, given such facts, the statement made in the article is easily refuted.
This is why on 28 October to 1 November 2013 61 provincial / district officials were trained by the National Core Training Team (NCTT) to support the implementation of the pilot. African language specialists were capacitated to deliver IIAL teacher training and support programmes to the cohort of) Grade 1 pilot teachers in provinces across the system. The IIAL Teachers Orientation Programme is being rolled-out by provincial/district officials between December 2013 and February 2014 to equip teachers with the tools and techniques to effectively teach children an African language at FAL level.
In addition, training and support will be ongoing through the Continuous Professional Training and Development (CPTD) programmes which is co-ordinated by the Teacher Development component at DBE. Furthermore, the DBE in collaboration with the Department of Higher Education (DHET) is working with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to intensify the FUNZA Lushaka initiative and recruit prospective students who have obtained the National Senior Certificate (NSC) to study for a teaching degree or a diploma in African languages.
An intensive support and monitoring programme will be rolled out by DBE, provincial and district officials to ensure the effective implementation of the pilot this year.
The DBE is cognizant of the immensity of this challenge which is why it is not rushing implementation but is instead phasing it in, one grade at a time and preceding it by a year of piloting. The article appears to make a fundamentally flawed assumption i.e. that the implementation is process and affects all schools in the country. However, the reality is that 2014 is the year of PILOT ONLY and involves only 275 schools in the provinces.
It is interesting to note that, despite the reporters’ seeming negativity to the introduction of IIAL, the rest of the article confirms the need to promote the previously marginalized African languages to prevent their dying out.
Source: South African Official News