AfriForum has announced on 15 January that they’re launching a comprehensive campaign to counter government’s renewed attacks on Afrikaans as medium of education in schools. The campaign, Red Afrikaanse Skole (Save Afrikaans Schools), comprises a five-point plan that can be supported quite easily. This follows after all three of the schools in Fochville that still offer Afrikaans-medium education, had been informed by the Gauteng Department of Education that at the start of the 2012 school year, they will be forced to accommodate groups of English-speaking learners. Two of these schools already are filled to capacity, however the Department blatantly ignores this fact and is not prepared to have the English learners accommodated in only one of these schools either. It is not even prepared to negotiate the matter with the interested parties any longer.
According to Alana Bailey, deputy CEO of AfriForum, it is unacceptable for schools to be forced in this manner to provide English-medium tuition. “Time and again learners who demand English-medium education are forced into Afrikaans-medium schools for political reasons and the schools are then obliged to turn into parallel-medium institutions at their own cost. In the long run, these schools become English-medium institutions, with the result that there are even less schools where Afrikaans-speaking learners have access to the internationally recognised right to enjoy mother-language education in an Afrikaans cultural environment.”
AfriForum’s opinion that the education authorities specifically target Afrikaanse schools, according to Bailey is proven by the fact that not a single example can be found in South Africa of an English-medium school where the Minister or education authorities get involved to force it to change its language policy or to provide education to learners in any other language apart from English. AfriForum and the parents of the learners of Fochville have the greatest sympathy with the thousands of learners who do not have access to good quality education; however the argument of access is time and again being abused as handy excuse for undermining the language policy of Afrikaans schools. The racial card is then added by government, even though Afrikaans-medium schools very definitely do not accommodate white learners only. Afrikaans is not the home language of a single race and government would do well to take note of this fact. An artificial need for English education is created by government in order to further an anti-Afrikaans agenda, at the cost of all learners involved.
AfriForum has announced that it will provide the schools of Fochville with legal advice and is already donating R50 000 towards legal action in this regard.
As government’s actions also do not comply with internationally recognised minority rights, the campaign will be internationalised. Support for Afrikaans-medium education has already been promised from the Netherlands and Belgium.
The public and especially parents of Afrikaans-speaking learners are encouraged to take a strong stand against the Gauteng Department’s abuse of power. They can support AfriForum’s Red Afrikaanse Skole campaign by:
* Donating R10 towards legal action against the department’s abuse of power by SMS’ing the word SKOOL to 38655;
* Participating in the school governing bodies’ elections that will take place at all schools in March 2012;
* Enrolling children with Afrikaans as mother language in Afrikaans nursery, primary and high schools;
* Supporting organisations like FEDSAS (for school governing bodies) and the SAOU (for teachers);
* Signing the petition in favour of Afrikaans-medium education at www.afriforum.co.za.