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DBE and PEDs to accelerate the pace of the Incremental Introduction of African Languages in public schools

This week saw the Grade 12 learners sitting for Paper 1 of several African Languages including Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Xitsonga, Tshivenda, isiZulu, isiXhosa, SiSwati, isiNdebele, and South African Sign Language. Despite challenges posed by COVID-19, the Basic Education Sector has worked tirelessly to strengthen curriculum coverage, especially in African languages.

The DBE announced plans to strengthen the teaching of African languages through the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) Strategy in 2013. It is through the IIAL Strategy that the DBE is emphasising the mandate of developing and promoting previously marginalised official African languages as enshrined in the Constitution and other legislative frameworks. The IIAL is a priority programme aimed at promoting aspects of social cohesion in our society. According to Ms Keitumetse Modiba, Director for Curriculum Implementation and Quality Improvement in GET at the DBE, the First Phase of IIAL targeted all 2,584 schools that were not offering a previously marginalised official African language.

“The IIAL programme caters for Home Language (HL), First Additional Language (FAL) and Second Additional Language (SAL) levels. It was piloted in 264 schools in 2014 and 2015. It was then implemented in 842 schools in 2016, 1,012 schools in 2017 and 1,319 schools in 2018 respectively. There are currently 2,144 schools that are implementing (83%), with a shortfall of 440 to reach the target of 2,584 as planned and all provinces have committed to reach their target in 2021. Schools that are implementing the IIAL Strategy factored in time allocated to the language level. On 13 January 2020, the DG requested the PEDs to provide the DBE with a plan, indicating how the IIAL Strategy targets will be reached. The IIAL Strategy has been implemented in the Foundation Phase and will continue in those schools in the Intermediate Phase since the configuration of the targeted schools has not changed in terms of the language offerings. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted on teaching and learning. Although the focus of teaching is on the fundamentals (reading and writing on HL and FAL), schools are implementing IIAL, as this is part of building social cohesion,” explained Ms Modiba.

In addition, Ms Modiba indicated that the DBE has worked with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) to develop SAL toolkits for the Intermediate Phase. She further added that the DBE is supporting provinces and districts to provide professional support to IIAL teachers. Monitoring of the implementation of IIAL in the targeted schools is currently underway. Officials who are monitoring are reporting positive progress, with videos showing non-Black African learners interacting with their teachers and communicating effectively in African languages.

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