West Cape News (Cape Town)

3 May 2012

South Africa: Protests Over Language Used At Macassar Schools

Photo: S.A Education Department
South Africa national senior certificate examination results.

The use of English and Afrikaans in classroom tuition at primary schools in Macassar sparked violent protests on Tuesday, with hundreds of residents burning tyres and throwing stones at passing cars.

Residents' attempts to block the N2 national road were stopped by police in Casspirs who ordered the protestors back.

The protestors said instruction at the three primary schools in the area to which they can send their children, is only in English or Afrikaans and the schools catered for coloured rather than black children. Protestors demanded that Xhosa also be used as a language of instruction.

Additionally, they complained of high school fees and long distances which their children had to commute on foot or via costly public transport in order to attend school.

"We demand primary school for our children. Our children are repeating classes because they are only taught in English and Afrikaans," said residents Samkelo Mhluzana, 35.

He said his children also had to walk through bush to get to school, which was very dangerous.

Fellow resident Nokxaso Mba, a mother of two children in grade 1 and 6 at Marven Park Primary, said she was also protesting over the school fees she had to pay.

"I'm paying R140 for transport for each child, R340 for school fees, and I have to pay no matter what, because at the end of the day they do not give results without school fees."

However, she said what made her "so angry" was that her children were only taught in English and Afrikaans.

Two Macassar Village residents were arrested for public violence and appeared in the Somerset West Magistrate's Court yesterday where they were released on a warning.

Supporting the accused, about 15 school children and 20 adults demonstrated outside court by singing and dancing.

Western Cape Education Department MEC Donald Grant's spokesperson Bronagh Casey said the district office was discussing the viability of a new school in Macassar with the community leadership.

Casey said a meeting was held on April 21, attended by the local police forum, principals and community leaders where decisions were taken to request the municipality cut down bush to improve safety for learners on foot; request more visible policing; and introduce Xhosa instruction in Grades 1 - 3 in addition to Afrikaans and English instruction.

She said a follow-up meeting had been scheduled.

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