IsiZulu-speaking educators' attitudes towards the role of isiZulu in education in Durban.
The South African Schools Act (1996) is now in place to allow the governing bodies to decide on language policies for their schools. This has come about as a means to redress the past situation whereby policies were imposed upon schools. The most affected groups of people were Africans since those policies were designed with the sole aim of undermining their home languages. The only two languages that were promoted at all cost were English and Afrikaans. These languages were also used as languages of learning and instructions. This had detrimental effects on the school results of black children as they could not cope to learn in a foreign or second language. Teachers also worked under tremendous pressure as they had to make an extra effort in trying to make learners understand difficult and new concepts. In an effort to redress these problems the new language policy under the new democratic South Africa recommends the use of a home language as a language of learning. It however remains to be investigated what attitudes the black educators have towards this policy as they are the ones who should implement it in their classrooms. This study set out to investigate the black educators' attitudes on the issue of the role of indigenous languages in education. The focus indigenous language of this study is isiZulu. This is due to the fact that the study was conducted in an isiZulu dominated area, that is in Durban in the region of KwaZulu-Natal. I wanted to ascertain what are the isiZulu-speaking teachers' attitudes on the role of isiZulu in society and in education. I investigated their attitudes on what languages should be used as languages of teaching and learning and at what levels. I also tried to understand what languages they would prefer to be offered as subjects. The data of this study were obtained mostly by means of questionnaires and verified through limited but structured interviews. The questionnaire had two sections: Respondents completed the first part of the questionnaire giving their personal details. These were needed to establish whether and to what extent they have an effect on teachers' attitudes. The rest of the questionnaire was directed at eliciting the educators' attitudes towards the role of African languages in education. This study has two main findings: First, it was found that the respondents generally favour the use of African languages in education. That is, the majority of respondents favoured the early introduction and continued use of isiZulu as a language of instruction. Second, some of their responses are self-contradictory to this attitude in that the teachers equally wanted English to be used early in education as well. Some of them envisaged a future where English will continue to dominate the lives of African people. There is a strong evidence of language shift from isiZulu to English. If the results of this study are anything to go by, then there are serious implications for the new language policy in education. The survival and success of any educational policy depends on the extent to which it is understood and embraced by the practitioners, in this case educators. Given my findings that most teachers are ambivalent about the new policy, the 'language in education' is in serious trouble. Based on collected data, it is clear that the teachers were not familiar with the new policy. The policy is likely to fail unless some intervention strategies are taken to address this problem. This made me to recommend that black educators (and parents in general) need to be given an awareness of the current language in education policy and what it attempts to redress.