Basic Education Department (DBE) To Assess Learners In Their Mother Tongue
The South Africa Basic Education Department has stated that the next step towards implementing mother-tongue instruction at schools is to conduct assessment’s in the same language the learners were taught in.
Incorporating mother-tongue instruction in South African schools has become a priority to the Department of Basic Education and its Minister Angie Motshekga says that the department will move forward with its plans to teach learners in their home language.
At a parliamentary Q&A on 9 March, Motshekga said that one of the biggest reasons why children in the country have such poor reading comprehension skills is because they are learning in a ‘foreign language’ by being taught in English.
According to her, the mother-tongue pilot projects in the Eastern Cape held by the government were a success and they were looking to expand these to schools in other provinces.
As part of this pilot learners at 2 015 schools are taught Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology in their home languages IsiXhosa and Sesotho. However, assessments are typically done in English which forces learners to grapple with a language which they did not understand while learning.
On the solution to this Motshekga said:
Government has begun the process of changing this and the next step is to assess them in the language they are taught – so that we are able asses performance and not language proficiency.
She says that testing learners in a language they were not taught in tests their language abilities instead of their cognitive development or understanding of the work they are taught in the classroom.
The Minister added that the government would have to make use of technology and other systems to effectively translate complicated scientific and mathematical concepts into languages which do not necessarily have the same terminology.
Chief Executive Officer of the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) Lance Schultz spoke to eNCA stating that it is important that these plans are implemented as it will ensure that learners exit the schooling systems with proficient knowledge in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical work streams.
Schultz also says that it is important that all learners are given an equal basis to learn and be assessed in their mother tongue.