Bolobedu pushes for Khelobedu as 13th official language

Bolobedu community rallies for Khelobedu recognition, highlighting language barriers affecting education and cultural heritage.

The Bolobedu community in Limpopo wants the government to make Khelobedu the 13th official language in South Africa.

International World Mother Language Day was celebrated on Wednesday.

Bolobedu schools struggle when writing exams in Sepedi

The Limpopo basic education department has supported the plea, claiming pupils from Bolobedu schools struggle when writing exams in Sepedi.

Limpopo basic education spokesperson Matome Moremi-Taueatsoala said every language had the right to exist, because it is through the mother tongue that a culture of a tribe or ethnic group is preserved.

Moremi said experience had taught the department that pupils became more confident when expressing themselves in their mother tongue.

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“Constitutionally, the Balobedu community is right. The clan constitutes about 30% of the Limpopo population.”

Moremi added the performance of Balobedu pupils was lowered during exams taken in Sepedi as a home language.

Parents worried

Spokesperson for the Balobedu community Leon Mateta said parents were worried that the majority of their children were producing poor results in first language subjects because “our children are forced to translate Khelobedu into Sepedi, which is not the language of the breast”.

“If given chance to write Sepedi home language [subjects] in Khelobedu, their mother tongue, chances are that they may outclass all regions in South Africa in the 2024 matric results.”

In 2022, parliament’s Joint Constitutional Review Committee received a presentation on potentially amending the constitution to recognise Khelobedu and Kiswahili as the 13th and 14th official languages.

The Citizen understands the matter tops the agenda in different parliament discussions.

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