A study of the perceptions of the language-in-education policy held by Zulu speaking parents in a former model C senior primary school.
This study investigates the perceptions of Zulu speaking parents of the new language-in-education policy. The context for the study, which is explained in Chapter one, is an ex-Model C senior primary school in KwaZulu-Natal. Chapter two consists of a review of the literature and examines South African language policy before 1989 as well as early ANC language policy up to the present language-in -education policy of additive multilingualism. The research entails a critical examination of the popularity of English as a language of learning (hereafter referred to as LOL), weighed against the need to maintain and sustain indigenous languages. There is also a focus on the current debate surrounding language policy and the notion that, historically, language policy has never been a neutral issue. Chapter three describes the research methodology. A qualitative approach was used, drawing on the interpretive paradigm. Some quantitative data, however, was necessary to support the research. Data was drawn from a sample comprising 30 Grade 4 Zulu speaking parents at a former Model C school, who completed a questionnaire. Interviews were conducted to probe and clarify the responses to the questionnaire. Three main issues were addressed: parents' reasons for choosing an English school; any concerns they might have over the neglect of culture; and their knowledge of the new language-in-education policy. Chapter four describes how these three broad issues were tested against the perceptions of two other participants, namely the Principal of the school (Mr B) and an outside educator (Dr L). Conclusions are discussed in Chapter 5. A key finding that emerges from the study is that parents do not favour an English only policy; they want both unfetted access to English and the assurance that their indigenous language and culture will be safeguarded. However, these findings need to be discussed in the context of rapid social change and it was concluded that parents were not well informed about the new language-in-education policy of additive multilingualism, and the options that this affords them. The government needs to disseminate information more efficiently if the new language-in-education policy is to impact on the decisions that parents make regarding their children's education.