South African Indian students reject Afrikaans as second language

By NNN-Bernama,

Johannesburg : South African Indians are demanding Indian languages like to be recognised as official second language subjects in schools, rather than ‘Afrikaans’ which many describe as “the language of the oppressor”, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

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The issue emerged after a school principal, Vishnu Naidoo, made a strong statement to the ‘Weekly Extra’ that Afrikaans was “the language of the oppressor” and had no relevance to Indian pupils in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, where about 1.4 million Indians reside.

Naidoo said he would lead protests if the education ministry did not accede to his request to recognise languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati and Telugu as official second language subjects.

Currently only English, Afrikaans, and nine indigenous African languages are recognised as second language and Indian languages are referred to as community languages in the South African constitution.

Reacting to Naidoo’s plea, Education ministry director Duncan Hindle said the Indian languages were not a viable second language option because they were not recognised by the constitution.

But there was also no compulsion for pupils to take Afrikaans as a second language, as they could take any of the other languages, the minister said.

Although KwaZulu-Natal is home to the Zulu language, the second largest after English, and many have advocated that pupils take Zulu as a second language for practical purposes, Naidoo argued that pupils found Zulu too difficult to learn.

Others, however, have said that there would be practical advantages to learning an indigenous African language rather than one of the Indian languages, which were rarely used in practice, even by the Indian community in the country.