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About a month ago, I was on the Hatfield campus of the University of Pretoria, waiting for a class to start when I overheard remarks on a topic about which I feel quite strongly.Two students wondered if it is better to study in English or Afrikaans.
During the course of the discussion, I heard the well-known argument:”English is an international language, it makes sense to study in English if you want to get ahead nowadays.”I had to exercise some self-control to stay out of it. Not because I’m afraid to express my views but because this was not my conversation.But it did get me thinking about Afrikaans and the struggle it took to have it as a medium of education.
So many people studied in Afrikaans and yet became successful business people.Think of Anton Rupert, Prof Chris Barnard and Christo Wiese, to name a few.
The statement that it is better to study in English has also been proven false by research.Time and again it has been proven that one’s mother tongue is the easiest and best medium in which to transfer knowledge.
According to a UNESCO report of 2010, it was found that black South African schoolkids who attended school between 1955 and 1976 had received eight years of mother tongue education. They performed much better than those who studied in English later on.In 1976 the pass rate was 83,7%.The programme changed and the period of mother tongue education was shortened to 4 years.In 1992 the pass rate was 44%.
The South African Systematic Evaluation National Report of 2005 indicated that students studying in their mother tongue had an average of 69%.Students not studying in their mother tongue managed only 32%.
Mother tongue education is more effective, mainly because it is easier to understand something in your first language.Once you’ve grasped the concept, it is so much easier to translate it to your second language if needed.
Yet many people in our country still prefer to not study in their mother tongue, while developed countries are working had to make mother tongue education a priority.
The question therefore remains: Why would you not want to be educated in your mother tongue when it is so beneficial?
Eduan is AfriForum Youth’s National Vice Chairman
Read AfriForum Youth’s complete report on the issue at http://afriforumjeug.co.za/nuut/report-on-mother-tongue-education/