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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


DURAND, François. Relocate the classroom for the survival of subject jargon in Afrikaans. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.4, pp.599-610. ISSN 2224-7912.

Afrikaans is the only indigenous Southern African language that has been developed to such a level that it can be used as an academic language in any subject, and yet, over the past decade, it has been largely eliminated from the tertiary teaching milieu. According to the latest report released by Stats SA (2018), English is the sixth largest home language and Afrikaans the third largest home language in South Africa, the latter being spoken by approximately 23 million people in Southern Africa. Afrikaans-speaking scientists and technicians educated at colleges and universities where Afrikaans was the language of teaching and learning, work in the private sector and in many parastatals and government institutions, such as the CSIR, ARC, NECSA, the Departments of Water and Sanitation, of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, and of Higher Education and Training, the Parks Board, the Council for Geoscience, and museums. Great scientific breakthroughs have been made by Afrikaans-speaking scientists and many Afrikaans-speaking scientists work as subject specialists overseas, where they are on a par with their international peers. The argument that education in Afrikaans is in some way detrimental to the Afrikaans learner is therefore nonsensical political rhetoric that has no factual basis. Fortunately, Afrikaans is still being taught at some schools in spite of their being subjected to constant and increasing political harassment. The few remaining Afrikaans single-medium schools are accused by government officials of maintaining the hegemony of the pre-1994 Afrikaans government by excluding students who prefer English medium tuition. Anglicising these schools, that comprise only 5% of the schools in South Africa, will hardly make up for the shortage of schools that is taking on critical proportions, especially considering that hundreds of thousands of new learners enter the school system annually. However, a situation far more serious than Afrikaans-language teaching and learning threatens education in South Africa, and that is the incompetence of teachers in certain English medium schools. Many people who insist on being taught in English want access to Afrikaans schools, while they have the opportunity to go to schools in townships where English is the language of teaching and learning. The reason is clear: according to several surveys the literacy and mathematical competency of teachers in these underperforming schools is far below par and the lowest in the world. Parents know this, while Afrikaans medium schools have a reputation of being some of the best-performing schools in South Africa. With the exception of the North-West University, and to a degree at the University of the Free State and the University of Stellenbosch, Afrikaans-speaking students are now forced to receive their tuition in English at all South African universities. This creates the untenable situation that Afrikaans-speaking teachers have to teach Afrikaans-speaking learners in Afrikaans medium schools with an English subject jargon background. Government policy apologists are not concerned about this, and use the "equal misery" argument, believing that the playing field would then be level because everyone (except, of course, English mother tongue speakers) is equally disadvantaged because all are taught in a language other than their own. This Schadenfreude has a sinister overtone in the light of the overwhelming evidence that mother tongue education is far superior to that in another language. The attack on Afrikaans as a language of tuition, labelling it as the "language of the oppressor", ignores the fact that Afrikaans is a unique indigenous language and that the majority of Afrikaans speakers are the descendants of the First People of Southern Africa, who now, ironically and paradoxically, opt for the most colonial of all languages - English. It is clear that the existence of Afrikaans as a fully functional language of science and learning is a threat to the image of government, who has failed dismally in developing subject vocabulary in the other indigenous languages and has allowed the quality of education all over the country to implode. An alternative, away from government control, must be found to ensure the survival of the subject jargon and technical terminology of Afrikaans and their higher-order linguistic contribution to the Afrikaans language. This is important not only for the survival of the Afrikaans subject jargon that has been developed in the last century, but also for the survival of the Afrikaans-speaking community as a distinct cultural component of Southern Africa. This can be achieved only through continued higher-order communication and mother tongue education in this community, from toddler to academic, from farmer to consultant, from the researcher to the teacher. Afrikaans can survive without government interference and suppression on the internet, where Afrikaans subject matter for learners from Grade R to university will benefit Afrikaans-speaking teachers, learners and parents.

Palavras-chave : Afrikaans; science; subject jargon; language of learning and education; internet; subject specialist; schools; curriculum.

        · resumo em Africaner     · texto em Africaner     · Africaner ( pdf )


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