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Impact of Language on South African Education

Bipin Dimri May 22, 2019

The education system of South Africa is currently going through a tough phase. And the ongoing crisis has been proven by the dismal ranking that comes from Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. 

The young students accumulating education in primary school aren’t only hindered by the unfair system of education. But there are the language barriers which prevents the students from reaching their full potential. 

Based on the 2011 Census, around 88% of the population across South Africa are fluent in native languages of the country. According to the sources, the children are often sent to schools that use their language at home as the bridge to gain proper instruction from 1st to 3rd grades. The sources also said that most of the pupils usually remain in the schools which teaches them their mother tongue up to matriculation.

One of the students from Rhodes University, Masechaba Makola said she accumulated knowledge from a Sepedi-medium school for all her entire schooling career.

According to Makola, all her subjects have been taught in the native Sepedi language as well as English. When Sepedi was in her primary school, everybody knew that Makola knows English. It is safe to predict that Makola used to attend tuition classes to the English language. Instead, since a tender age, she used to invest her time to read magazine and newspapers.

Makola said that reading different genres of magazines and daily circulated newspaper helped her to stay ahead from her classmates. Makola also said that she would often helm the role of the anchor during her school days. When she was in high school and primary school, she always felt that she needs to improve her English.

When Makola progressed to the tertiary education institute, Masechaba was well aware that the culminating education in the native language will put her in a severe disadvantage. There are many more students like Kgaugelo Mamogale, across South Africa who feels about education in the country, same as Makola.


  • Author:

    Bipin Dimri.

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    Sr. Copywriter

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    With 8+ years of experience as a freelancer, I hold expertise in article writing, blogging, content writing and proofreading with high-level proficiency in writing technical as well as non-technical content. I understand the pulse of the matter and can make the words beat with life.

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