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South Africa. John Proctor. Amanda Ross. Language in Education Policy. Paula Smith. Grogan Ullah.

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south africa

South Africa

John Proctor

Amanda Ross

Language in Education Policy

Paula Smith

Grogan Ullah

"In this paper we argue that the Language in Education Policy (LiEP) of 1997, based on the promotion of social equality, justice and empowerment through language parity in the new post-apartheid era, was, to a great extent, rendered ineffective through internal resistance, global neo-liberal forces, and the pressure of global English.“

  • Population: 48,782,756 (2008 est.)
  • Median Age: 24.2 (2008 est.)
  • Ethnic groups:
    • Black African: 79%
    • White: 9.6%
    • Colored: 8.9%
    • Indian/Asian: 2.5%
  • Languages:
    • Isizulu: 23.8%
    • Isixhosa: 17.6%
    • Afrikaans: 13.3%
    • Sepedi: 9.4%
    • English: 8.2%
    • Sesotho: 7.9%
    • Xitsonga: 4.4%
    • Other: 7.2%
  • Literacy: 86.4% (>15yrs can read and write)

(CIA Factbook)

  • Pre-Apartheid
  • Apartheid
    • 1940’s National Party Wins on

platform of racism and segregation

    • 1949: Eiselen Commission charged

with reforming African education system

    • 1953: Bantu Education Act
    • 1959: The Extension of University Education Act
    • 1963: The Coloured Person’s Education Act
    • 1965: The Indian Education Act
    • 1976: Bantu education decreed Afrikaans as a mandatory medium of instruction
    • 1976: Soweto Student Revolt
  • Post Apartheid
    • 1996: Language in Education Policy

How did the Apartheid regime use language to maintain power?

language in education policy liep
Language in Education Policy (LiEP)
  • Essential aspects of the policy
    • Students choose language of learning and teaching
    • To redress discriminatory policies of the past
    • To facilitate communication across the barriers of color, language and region
  • Key aims of the policy
    • To promote full participation in SA society and economy
    • To promote and develop all 11 official languages
    • To counter disadvantages resulting from a mismatch between the home language and the language used in the educational environment

How could multilingualism promote equality?

Globalization and South Africa

South Africa’s unique position in history.

Policy shift from socialist to neoliberal 1996.


Adam Smith’s right wing economic philosophy.

Surrender of state power to power of market.

Democratic, public institutions dismantled in favor of competitive, private enterprise.

Transfer of wealth from the state (the people) to a small group of investors


Transition government borrows $185 million from IMF.

ANC embraces SAP through GEAR policy.

fiscal discipline, contain inflation, export oriented, liberalize foreign exchange, privatize state assets, suppress trade unions….

How did neoliberal policies contribute to English dominance?


Neoliberalism and Education

  • 1994 Policy for Education and Training –WB helps to draft it.
  • 1995 World Bank’s Education Sector Review Report
  • 1991 WTO GATS – business in education.
  • Education as a key vehicle for neoliberal ideology.
    • Liberal education to vocational education
    • Qualitative measurement to quantitative measurement
    • Input and process-based to measurable outcomes-based.
  • Education serves the corporate order.
    • Self sufficiency-corporate partnerships– patents & royalties
    • Efficiency – cut staffing, dependence on ICT.
    • Emphasis accountability –standardized testing
    • Importance of teacher training –”the guardians”
  • South Africa
    • Lowest TIMSS scores of 50 nations
    • Neoliberal adjustments premature and a failure.
    • It is time to reassess neoliberal policies

The Global Impact of English

  • English as the global lingua franca.
  • Historical factors – imperialism, Atlantic Charter, globalization
  • The de facto language of:
      • Science, technology, medicine
      • Aviation & maritime communication
      • Business & commerce, TNCs
      • IGOs - WTO, IMF, World Bank, ….
      • NGOs
      • Diplomacy, E.U. & U.N
      • Courts.
      • Sport – International Olympic Committee
      • Tertiary education, papers, journals
      • Media, internet, youth culture
  • South Africa –English appropriates 85% of TV airtime, 95% of government speeches, 80% of school instruction. South African language usage and its language policy remain at odds.

How is English positioned as the dominant language?


English and Globalization: Three Thought Models

  • English as vehicle of cultural imperialism
    • The Core (ENL) – semi periphery (ESL) – and
    • periphery (EFL)
    • Domination and Homogenization
  • World Englishes
    • Localization and heterogenization
    • Appropriation and transformation
  • Circuits of Flow
    • Flux and fluidity

How might we understand

the relationship between

English and indigenous



The New Empire: 5-fold Historical Model

  • Christianization and “Discovery”
  • Civilizing and Enlightening
  • Conceptualizing and Developing
  • Capitalizing and Universalizing
  • Corporatizing
  • English and Resistance
  • From adoption to reconstitution
  • Open Source IT
  • Youth Culture (Hip Hop)
  • Multilingualism, vernacular revitalization and identity politics

How does the global use of English advance the interests of those vested in the “New Empire”?


South Africa and the Failure of Multilingual Education

  • The pull of urban youth culture
  • Perceptions of Parents
  • Testing regimes
  • Instructors
    • Limited number of highly trained indigenous speakers
  • Pedagogy
    • Rote learning, choraling and code switching
    • Internalization: rewarding and scolding
  • Materials and Resources
    • Lack of resources in indigenous languages
    • Western donors to the rescue

Why did the LiEP fail and English emerge as the dominant language in S.A. Education?