No High Scores for Cape Town Students Due To Language Barrier

These days, language has become a barrier for Cape Town Students (South Africa), who are unable to score high in their matric exams. They are forced to write exams in a language, which is actually not their mother tongue. Hence, these students are facing major disadvantages, resulting into lower grades as per UWC’s linguistics department head.

Further, according to Professor Bassey Antia, DBE, i.e. the Department of Basic Education, should invest in hiring invigilators, teachers and moderators, who could speak different African other than just Afrikaans and English.

Students are often taught in multiple languages. Hence, it is quite unnatural to test or judge their knowledge in only one of these languages. It becomes even difficult for the students, when the examining language is the weaker of their languages.

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Reports have observed that the students, who speak African languages, are particularly the ones, who score the lowest marks. The major reason behind this is the fact that the language of the students is not being used in examining content subjects.

In such a scenario, everybody points out at the dismal performance, while no one looks at the language question, which needs to be addressed for sure. The professor further added that this situation must be seen from a different angle. Since it is a multilingual environment, the students gain knowledge across multiple languages. However, they are assessed in only one language.

On the other hand, DBE said that there are not enough teachers, who could teach indigenous languages. As a result, the exams are not administered in African languages. A spokesperson of the department said that DBE started with an initiative that focuses on introducing native African languages into mainstream education. However, it is also said that this initiative yet to bear fruit.

Professor Antia has been conducting a study (the research includes almost 119 students belonging to multiple language groups) since 2013 and hopes to present the same to DBE, once published.

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