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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist

Public schools are allowed to teach foreign languages, says department of education

According to the department school principals are allowed to apply for foreign languages to be taught at their respective schools.

On Monday the Patriotic Alliance (PA) marched to Esikhisini Primary School in Pretoria, Atteridgeville, to halt the alleged teaching of Shona Language at the said school.

The PA accused the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) of working with the School Governing Board (SGB) chairperson, a Zimbabwean, to introduce the teaching of the language at Esikhisini. However, the department denies receiving any formal application for the introduction of Shona from the public school.

Kenny Kunene, the party’s deputy president contested against the prioritisation of Zimbabwean pupils over South African pupils.

No special preference

Speaking to The Citizen PA spokesperson Steve Motale said the party received information from ‘disgruntled’ Esikhisini teachers about plans to introduce Shona Language at the school and many other problems at the school.

“They were also not happy about the high number of Zimbabwean pupils at the school, something confirmed by the Department of Education itself who put the Zimbabwean leaner-population at the school at 20%,” said Motale.

In an interview with the SABC, Kunene said the principal dismissed the rumoured figure, claiming that the school only has 20% foreign pupils.

However, the PA deputy president and members of his party still doubted the validity of this claim, therefore saying the party would further investigate the matter.

However, the Gauteng Department of Education’s Spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed the population percentage stipulated by the principal.

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“According to our records, 20% of learners at the said school are foreign nationals,” he said.

Furthermore, Mabona siad that all the pupils at Esikhisini were admitted following the rules of the GDE admissions regulations.

The Gauteng school admission policy issued by the department states that all pupils, whether or not South African reserved the right to education in the country.

“The nationality and immigration status is immaterial. All schools are advised to admit learners and serve their education requirements irrespective of whether the learner or parent of a learner does not produce documents listed in paragraph 15, 17 to 20 of this policy.”

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In spite of this rule, Mabona stated that no preferential treatment is given to non-South Africans at the expense of South Africans.

‘It’s just embarrassing for us as a country’

The PA also appealed to the SGB for the removal of the Zimbabwean national as chairperson.

“The parents who have voted for this Zimbabwean must not outsource their intelligence, skills and capacity to a Zimbabwean. South Africans are capable of being chairpersons of SGBs,” said Kunene.

Furthermore, Kunene claimed that the current SGB of Esikhisini allegedly bullies the parents and teachers of the said school.

“With regards to the School Governing Body elections, members are elected by parents whom their learners are in the respective schools. Accordingly, only parents with relevant and valid documents are eligible to be elected to the SGB Committee,” Mabona stipulated.

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However, Kunene argued that the department should change the SGB elections rule by limiting it only to South African national parents.

“We demand the amendment so that the definition says you are eligible to stand as the member of the SGB and the chairperson if you are a South African citizen.

“It’s just embarrassing for us as a country to have a Zimbabwean being the chairperson of an SGB in a South African public school.” said Kunene.

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Teaching of foreign languages in SA public schools

The last concern that the PA was contesting for was the application to teach Shona Language at the public school. Kunene asserted that this was unacceptable and insisted that it was the SGB chairperson pulling the strings to have Shona taught at the school.

Furthermore, Kunene said the principal of the school denied applying to the department for Shona to be taught at the school.

“This is a public school, Shona is not in our curriculum, so we understand that the department of education is entertaining this nonsense, so we are here to demonstrate our anger and dissatisfaction,” said Kunene.

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Nonetheless, according to the department school principals are allowed to apply for foreign languages to be taught at their respective schools.

“Consequently, a formal application must be submitted to the Department accompanied by minutes of both parents and SGB meetings wherein a resolution was taken to introduce that subject. However, the number of learners who will be taking the said subject, availability of educators and Learning and Teaching Support Material should be taken into consideration,” said Mabona.

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