Dispute over language lands school in court

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A KwaZulu-Natal parent has taken Durban High School to court for allegedly teaching her son sub-standard IsiZulu, while languages such as Afrikaans and English were given priority.

Ntombenhle Nkosi is the first parent to take the school to court following the dispute over language transformation in model C schools.

She lodged her complaint at the equality court on behalf of her son against the school and its governing body in October last year.

Nkosi argued that the school was discriminating against her son by teaching his mother tongue, isiZulu, as a second additional language, or third level isiZulu, which should be offered to non-isiZulu speakers.

Nkosi, a Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), chief executive officer, has paved the way for many parents who have in the past complained about the lack of transformation in most former model C schools in the country.

"I became concerned when the results of my son indicated that he was taught isiZulu as an additional language not as a mother tongue.

"According to the department of education's national curriculum statement, children have a right to be taught their mother tongues at high level," Nkosi said.

She said she tried to resolve the matter with the school after she received a letter inquiring how parents wanted languages to be taught at the school.

"I wrote back to them indicating that children should be taught as per stipulated guidelines of the curriculum. Nothing changed in his mid-term results, instead he was insulted by an Afrikaans teacher," she said.

She said the dispute over how languages should be taught forced her to remove her son from the school.

"I want them to know that they are breaking the law as they are failing to follow the curriculum statement on languages."

Sibusiso Nkosi, spokesman for PanSALB said situation at former model C schools where black children were made to leave their African languages would not continue unnoticed.

He said the board perceived Nkosi's case as being of national importance because it aimed to address the lack of transformation in former model C schools.

"Our schools should create an environment in which our children are made to feel comfortable to learn their languages and their cultures," he said.

The case will be heard in the equality court tomorrow.