Afrikaans in the SA schooling system should not be an imposition, but a choice

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By Zaarah Booley

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.


A question has been circulating in the SA educational landscape: should kids be forced to learn Afrikaans? No, I don’t think Afrikaans should be forced upon learners. In fact, no language should be forced upon learners by an education system. If the SA educational landscape wants to include Afrikaans as part of their language curriculum, it should consider adding languages that form part of the rest of our official languages.



Discussions surrounding the language curriculum should focus on the addition of not just romantic and foreign languages such as French or Spanish, but also our official languages. I feel that the rest of our official languages are overlooked in schooling systems because English, Afrikaans and Xhosa are considered lingua francas’. The curriculum should include our other official languages and by giving students this variety, they will be able to choose a language they can complete until the end of their secondary education (possibly).


Afrikaans should still be respected and considered as the language of someone’s identity. Many South Africans identify with Afrikaans as their first or second language and have a deep connection with it. However, the imposition of one language, especially one that is tied to the system of Apartheid, needs to be sensitive and respect the perspectives of those affected by the system itself. The acquisition of any language should not be an imposition, but an active choice.


From a linguistic perspective, there is no superiority when it comes to a language. All languages are equal in their right to be learnt and in their right to not be learnt. Therefore, the South African education system should lean towards democratisation, and within this democratisation, languages as a part of the curriculum should be discussed. Afrikaans, just like any other official language, should be an optional language that can be chosen and not imposed upon.



Language is not a separate entity. It is an inherent part of you and it should be your right to choose the language you want to study in high-school. It all boils down to choice and allowing these choices to be physically realised in an education system.



This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.


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