Afrikaans schools really have nothing to fear – MEC
Since being accused of ‘raping’ the language, Lesufi wants school governing bodies to understand that’s not the case
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says Afrikaans-speaking schools need to understand they have nothing to fear. To this end, he plans to urgently meet principals and members of governing bodies of about 168 Afrikaans-medium schools to address the “serious communication breakdown” existing between them and himself.
Lesufi has butted heads previously with principals and members of governing bodies of several Afrikaans-medium schools over their refusal to admit English-speaking pupils.
In April, a group of people paraded an effigy of him draped in an ANC T-shirt that was accompanied by a placard that read: “You are raping Afrikaans.”
In January, Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging became embroiled in a language row after thwarting the department’s attempt to admit 55 pupils, who would have to be taught in English, at the school.
He has also been on the receiving end of hate mail and vitriolic attacks on Twitter.
Lesufi told Times Select: “My request is to meet all of them because I truly believe there’s a serious communication breakdown and we need each other to advance quality education and access.”
He has asked the Gauteng branch of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) to facilitate the meeting with the schools because the majority of them are members of Fedsas.
“I have no desire to kill Afrikaans or to undermine Afrikaans-speaking schools, but I’m saying if there are open spaces, they must also accommodate our learners. They must not create their own rules so that it’s only their children who stay in those schools.”
“I want to meet with them [Afrikaans-speaking schools] because I really feel that there’s no need for them to fear anything. This country belongs to all of us.”
He described having almost exclusively white teaching staff at Afrikaans-medium schools as “appalling”.
“You still have a white child that goes through education for 12 years without being taught by a black teacher. That thing is a misnomer. You can’t allow that.”
Gauteng Fedsas provincial manager Jean van Rooyen said he had emailed Lesufi requesting a meeting with him first before setting up a meeting with the schools and him.
“One wants to clear the air and see how we can establish a way of moving forward. We are working on establishing a good working relationship with both him and department officials.”