Parents not happy that isiXhosa is not taught at school

Capricorn Primary does not have isiXhosa as a subject even though it is the home language of many learners. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

The teaching of isiXhosa as a subject at Capricorn Primary School in Vrygrond has been delayed. It is time learners should be taught all three official languages – isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English – says the Vrygrond Community Development Forum (VCDF).

Vrygrond, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

The teaching of isiXhosa as a subject at Capricorn Primary School in Vrygrond has been delayed. It is time learners should be taught all three official languages – isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English – says the Vrygrond Community Development Forum (VCDF).

The community claim their children no longer show respect in the way they speak to elders or their parents, attributing this insolence to their alienation from their culture.

Vrygrond is one of Cape Town’s oldest informal settlements near Muizenberg.

Linamandla Deliwe from VCDF says isiXhosa, as one of the three official languages in the province, should be taught at the school.c “We are in the process of engaging with the School Governing Board (SGB) about the teaching of isiXhosa at the school since the board has the ultimate say,” he says.

According to Wayden Dietrick from the SGB, no one from the community had called for the language to be taught but he believes it’s time for the language to be taught.

In an email response, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Director of Communications,  Paddy Attwell, says that the SGB represents parents and determines the language policy of schools. Parents are advised to take the matter up with the SGB which will in turn bring it to the attention of WCED

Attwell confirmed that Capricorn’s SGB originally opted to teach English as a home language and Afrikaans as a first additional language.

Elitsha spoke to some of the community members.

“The school is not doing any good at all by not teaching isiXhosa language. From what I understand one cannot separate language from culture and by not teaching the language the school is destroying our culture,” says Albertina Ngqame.

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According to Ngqame, there will be no legacy for the coming generation if the school does not teach the subject.

Another community member doing her hair next to her shack said, “The school is not doing any good to our children. I wonder why they do not teach isiXhosa. This is racist. If I transfer my children from the Eastern Cape to this school they will find it very difficult to cope.”

She claims there is at times a breakdown in communication between her and her Grade 1 child at the school.

“We can only communicate well in English or Afrikaans. I love speaking to him in Xhosa but at times he looks confused. At least the school should introduce this subject for our legacy,” she says preferring to remain anonymous.

A lady running a dog project was against the idea of teaching isiXhosa language.

“The school is doing good to our children. It is preparing them for their future. Employers especially here in Cape Town look for workers who are fluent in English or Afrikaans so it’s a waste of time teaching the children Xhosa. You will not find any job advertising saying they’re looking for someone fluent in isiXhosa.”

Three of her children can communicate well in Xhosa though they were not taught the language at the primary school.

“I have no problem communicating with my children in Xhosa. They learn from others as they grow,” she says





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About Bernard Chiguvare 56 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.