Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
LE CORDEUR, Michael. The issue of Kaaps: Afrikaans teaching at school needs a more inclusive approach. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2015, vol.55, n.4, pp. 712-728. ISSN 2224-7912. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2015/v55n4a14.
The universal context that this paper builds on relates to the theme of language as a form of cultural identity and the role it plays in education. The question that guides this research, is whether one variety of the Afrikaans language - referred to as Kaaps1 - is owned by its speakers in such a way that it not only underpins the individual and collective identities of those Afrikaans-speaking people classified as Coloured2 and marginalised by poverty, location and race, but it could also contribute to the successful delivery of the school curriculum in those schools attended mainly by the Coloured population. A socio-historical perspective on the history of the Kaaps language since the early 1600s is reflected in a literature review, providing a backdrop to the current status of Kaaps among the coloured community; its rivalry with standard Afrikaans; the influence of Kaaps on its speakers' perception of their own identity; whether the CAPS3 makes provision for the teaching of Kaaps, and if so to what extent the language is used in South African schools. From the earliest days of South African history political decisions were taken to ensure that White and Coloured and Black people lived apart from one another. The racial label "Coloured" inflicted deep wounds and created a lot of bitterness. Because Coloureds in the Cape lived apart from their fellow Afrikaans speakers for such a long time, the respective language communities also grew further apart: Kaaps eventually developed alongside Standard Afrikaans. The earliest manifestations of Kaaps were recorded before Jan van Riebeeck set foot at the Cape on behalf of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1652. At a time when most Afrikaners in Cape Town were becoming anglicised, Muslims played a large role in developing Kaaps. Despite the Dutch origins and lyrics of Cape Muslim music, this cultural contribution was never acknowledged and very little of it was documented. The logical deduction following from these observations is that the "Coloured voice" simply could not be part of the canon of Afrikaans literature, because the Afrikaans spoken by most Coloured people (Kaaps) was regarded as a deviation from Standard Afrikaans. Most Coloured scholars are of the opinion that Standard Afrikaans does not represent the total language community of Afrikaans speakers. Yet the process of standardisation continued to deny the creole nature of Afrikaans, and the language was purified by the elimination of Khoi, Malay and slave influences. Another point of concern is that Kaaps is often disparagingly referred to as a joke language, thus conveying a stigma around the language. For many white speakers of Afrikaans the standard version of the language is part of their identity and defines who and what they are. It is no different for Coloured speakers of Afrikaans, but they are less outspoken about it. Against this background, the place of Coloured poets and writers who wrote in Afrikaans has always been controversial. After 1994 schools were no longer separated and today integrated schools are a common phenomenon. But the legacy of apartheid education is still evident, for example, in the level of literacy in the Coloured and Black communities, which is much lower than that in the White communities. This is the result of years of non-development of language proficiency among Coloured people, because Kaaps was dismissed as sub-standard. This led to bitterness because children who grew up with Kaaps had to learn in Standard Afrikaans and the prescribed textbooks portrayed a different world to the one in which they lived. A core aspect in the delivery of the curriculum is how knowledge is conveyed and constructed. Hence, several attempts were made to advance the recognition of Kaaps because the role of language is critically important in the successful delivery of the curriculum. Before learners can master a subject, they first need to overcome the barrier of the language of instruction. The result is that learners who speak Kaaps under-achieve in the national assessment tests because they are assessed in Standard Afrikaans. It should also be determined whether or not the new CAPS curriculum allows for Kaaps to be taught at school. According to the CAPS (DoBE 2012:4) the curriculum is an all inclusive document that guarantees learners the right to knowledge, skills and values irrespective of their socioeconomic background. At the same time schools must be sensitive to issues such as diversity, language and race. The whole approach of CAPS is based on social transformation and human rights whilst teaching learners to appreciate our indigenous knowledge systems. Within this context it is clear that there is nothing that prohibits schools from acknowledging Kaaps in the curriculum. It is widely recognized that learning through the mother tongue is the most effective form of learning with the best results (Alexander 1997, Heugh 2006). If this is true for English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and all the other indigenous languages, the same argument holds true for Kaaps. It is against this background that this study calls for a better representation of Kaaps in the school curriculum.
Keywords : Kaaps; varieties of Afrikaans; Standard Afrikaans; identity; Coloured people"; curriculum; Muslims; restandardisation.