The Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Organizations (FAK) is dismayed by the apparent orchestrated pressure which is being applied on Afrikaans schools countrywide.
The FAK is under the impression that government’s officials are with apparent approval seeing to the undermining of Afrikaans school’s authority and their subjection to central powers. The way in which the state currently wants to force Laerskool Mikro in the Western Cape to educate 21 children from mostly Afrikaans homes in English is the most recent example of this.
The FAK hereby appeals to government to respect constitutional stipulations in this regard and to establish the necessary procedures in order to stabilize and normalize the issue of mother tongue education.
The constitutional stipulations in this regard are very clear. The Constitution provides various language communities with the right to education in their own language. Afrikaans schools are in this regard a shining example to the other language communities in South Africa. More than any other indigenous language it has the ability to express the constitutional promise around mother tongue education in an effective way.
By placing Afrikaans schools and their authority under pressure around the issue of language policy the impression is created that the government does not have a true commitment to mother tongue education and the constitutional stipulations in this regard. There is consensus in education circles that if Afrikaans schools do not have the ability to apply the principle of mothertongue education, the other languages would also not be able to do it. Therefore placing Afrikaans schools under pressure ensures that a chain reaction will follow and that simply nothing will come of other languages’ attempts at mother tongue education. Pressure on Afrikaans amounts to an apology for monolingualism instead of multilingualism.
The FAK is of the opinion that the question of mother tongue education touches on the essence of the South African democracy. Action by government and other powers acting outside of the Constitution’s clear stipulations in this regard threatens the essence of our democracy. If the authority of Afrikaans schools around mother tongue education is undermined, one of the essential points of departure of democracy, namely the fundamental recognition of the plurality of communities, is unravelled.
The FAK therefore seriously appeals to government to enact immediate procedures to end the current unconstitutional mood against and pressure on Afrikaans schools. South Africa has an unfortunate history of central governments disregarding indigenous languages, which in an extreme case like Soweto 1976 led to serious violence and bloodshed. We hope that government will actively break with this legacy and not underestimate the sentiments around language. South Africa can’t afford that our languages once again become an obstacle rather than a key to democracy.