News / South Africa / Education

Keamogetswe Legae
2 minute read
15 Jun 2019
6:00 am

I don’t hate ‘die taal’, but we need changes – Lesufi

Keamogetswe Legae

The Gauteng Education MEC warned anyone opposing his social cohesion strategy that it was not open to negotiations.

Racial segregation in schools based on language won’t be tolerated, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi warned yesterday.

“I don’t hate Afrikaans and have respect for all 11 official languages, as well as mother-tongue education. These would be incorporated into the education system,” he said in his Education Roadmap speech at Nasrec Expo Centre yesterday.

But he was against schools that have Afrikaans as a medium of instruction where every pupil was forced to learn in that language, and would introduce a system where schooling will be available in more than one language.

“There can be Afrikaans, Sepedi and English in a school, so that children can play together during breaktime,” Lesufi said.

He warned anyone opposing his social cohesion strategy, that it was not open to negotiations.

“You have the right to resist what I want, but I also have the right to resist your resistance,” he said.

Lesufi’s recent renaming of Pretoria’s Hoërskool HF Verwoerd to Rietondale Secondary School was widely seen as an attack on Afrikaans. The new name reflected the area in which the school is situated.

The school was originally named after apartheid-era prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd.

In a tweet after the renaming, Lesufi claimed his aim is to reverse everything Verwoerd had done to South Africa’s education system during his reign.

That sparked strong reaction from AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, who said Lesufi was trying to come across as a protagonist against racism, but on the other hand he is attacking Afrikaners.

AfriForum was not available for comment yesterday but in a statement released in May, Carien Bloem said: “It would be wonderful if the education in Gauteng is advanced more fairly in future, if mutual recognition and respect triumph and, above all, if development of children will be the ultimate goal.”

A principal who asked not to be named, said she believed in Lesufi’s strategy, but was disappointed that he didn’t address disability in his speech. She had hoped to hear how disabled children would be accommodated in the strategy to shift education.

A pupil who only identified herself as Nqobile, said she had understood what the MEC said but was waiting for the government to disappoint her.

Lesufi also promised to deploy undercover policemen at schools to fight school violence and said he expected “to catch at least 500 bullies”.

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