South Africa: Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi 'Wants to Build Social Cohesion in Gauteng Schools'

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Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi sat down with Daily Maverick to discuss his department's commitment to building 'social cohesion' in the province's learning institutions, curbing school violence and advancing township schools.

Panyaza Lesufi arrives at his ninth-floor office in Simmonds Street, Johannesburg accompanied by his spokesperson, Steve Mabona. His initial statement, when asked about his department's stance on advancing monolingual schools, is: "I don't want to enter that debate."

However, with much hesitation, he goes on to describe his office's commitment to introducing English in strictly Afrikaans schools in the province as a means to "promote non-racialism in the country".

"My point of departure is to build social cohesion. If you can't build non-racialism in the classroom, you're not going to have it in the country," he said.

"This country has a responsibility to build a strong base of non-racialism and to build that, it starts in the classroom."

Under his leadership, the department has been critical of monolingual schools over what it sees as an attempt to use language to exclude learners from poor backgrounds. His stance has met with resistance from some cohorts who accuse him and the department of being anti-Afrikaans - a view he has...

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