It was responding to reports this week quoting teachers’ organisations saying that the introduction of mandatory lessons in indigenous languages across junior classes in primary schools, in line with the policy, has failed to take off.
“To say that plans have failed to take off is inaccurate in the light of the fact that these classes are only being piloted and the pilot is only a few weeks old. It is far too soon to judge the success or otherwise of the pilot,” education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said.
“In order to plan effectively for the implementation of this major initiative, the Department of Basic Education announced in 2012 that full implementation would be preceded by a pilot in Grade 1 classes in selected schools in each province in 2014.
“The IIAL policy will then be implemented incrementally, commencing in Grade 1 in 2015 and continuing until 2026, when it will be implemented in Grade 12,” Mhlanga said.
The spokesperson said provinces were still in the process of finalising the appointment of pilot schoolteachers and delivering provincial teacher training workshops and on-going support for the pilot schools.
“The appointment of pilot school teachers has taken longer than expected in some provinces and, as a result, the teaching of the third language is only just starting at some schools. However, in other schools it is already happening, with very positive feedback,” said Mhlanga.
“The purpose of the pilot is to identify challenges in the implementation of IIAL in order to inform full-scale implementation in 2015,” he said.