Matric learners get to write their exams in isiXhosa and Sotho in 2020

Matric learners get to write their exams in isiXhosa and Sotho in 2020

- A new policy will be rolled out in 2020 in the Eastern Cape allowing students to write their matric exams in isiXhosa, Sotho, English and Afrikaans.

- The policy has the potential to improve matric results in the province

- There are concerns that the policy may not be a success

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The Eastern Cape education department has given the green light for learners in the province to write their exams in isiXhosa and Sotho.

Provincial education MEC Fundile Gade made the announcement during a media briefing earlier in December. learned that up to this point, matric students have only allowed to take their exams in either Afrikaans or English.

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The option to choose which language to write their exams will give the students a chance to perform better by being able to access the questions more easily.

This will be the first time that matrics will be able to write their exams in a language other than English or Afrikaans.

In 2012 the Eastern Cape department of education allowed for students to learn in their home language in an effort to improve results in the foundation phase.

As of September this year, 2000 of 5400 schools in the province had adopted the home language policy in grades 1,2 and 3.

The policy is set to be launched for grade 12 in 2020.

“We have passed through the 2019 examinations. Our eyes are now on the 2020 examinations because we are going to have grade 12 exam questions in isiXhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans and English.” Gade said.

He said that this was part of the process of "decolonising" education according to

“If the project fails in front of our eyes, then we will be undermining the decolonisation of education, not as a country, but as a continent. It would suggest that the people of Africa are comfortable with colonisation.
“That is how serious the issue of grade 12 writing exams, including maths and science, in their mother tongue is. Many people in the country are thinking it is impossible, but successful nations are nations that conduct education in their mother tongue.”

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Gade believes the policy will greatly improve matric results and the Eastern Cape would improve its matric pass rate. There are plans to roll the policy out to other provinces across the country.

Hlathikazi Beni belongs to an NGO called the Umnombo Foundation which helps schools overcome challenges said that the policy would help drive transformation.

“Learners will better articulate themselves and understand the curriculum better. This will make things better for teachers as well. This is such a much-needed change in our learning experience,” Beni enthused.

The policy decision has enjoyed cross-party support with the EFF praising the initiative.

However, Hendrick Makaneta, an education activist, warned that mother tounge exams would not guarantee success but there significant challenges to overcome from the side of the pupils and the department for the policy to be successful.

“If language alone was a guarantee for success, then no one would fail, but it is not. That is why you still find English-speaking learners who fail English as a subject despite the fact that it is taught in their mother tongue.
“As far as African languages are concerned, we still have a long way to go as most of our languages are not fully developed academically to accommodate mathematics and science for instance. There are many concepts which are yet to be taught in as far as sciences are concerned.
“It may well prove to be a big mountain to climb if learners can be tested without exposure to some of these concepts."

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