Is Mother-Tongue Education Possible in a Language-Diverse Province? A Case of Limpopo Province

Rachael Jesika Singh

Abstract


Mother tongue instruction in education is practiced in many countries across the world. The South African scenario is unique in this regard. Whilst many nations have identified one national language by which their populace can be identified, in South Africa, there are eleven such languages. The problem is that many of the South African languages are indigenous to specific provinces. In the Limpopo province, for example, three official indigenous African languages are spoken. This makes instruction in the mother tongue complex. This study examined mother tongue instruction in schools in the Limpopo province. The aim of the study was to investigate whether mother tongue instruction is possible in a province that has three African indigenous languages, in addition to English and Afrikaans. Data was collected using questionnaires and interviews. The sample consisted of schools in areas of the province where the different languages are spoken. In addition, the sample also consisted of schools from multicultural settings, mainly found in urban areas. In total 12 schools were selected. The data was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. The data revealed that mother tongue education is possible in situations where all the children speak one or two of the national languages. Where more than two languages are spoken as mother tongue, there are challenges determining the medium of instruction. The biggest challenge in such a case is the provision of learner-support materials (LSM). Another associated challenge is class size. Broader challenges include shortages of suitably qualified teachers. Recommendations of this study are: mother tongue instruction must be approached and funded systemically; learner-support materials must be developed before implementation of such a system; mother tongue instruction should also be available in multicultural schools; school facilities should be standardised so that demand on well-resourced schools is minimised.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n25p141


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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