/ 30 September 2008

Court rules on ‘kitchen’ isiZulu case

A Durban school did discriminate against its isiZulu-speaking pupils by offering Afrikaans at a higher grade than isiZulu in 2007, the Equality Court in Durban found on Tuesday.

The mother of a pupil at Durban High School (DHS) had complained that her son was being taught ”kitchen Zulu” at the school. She believed it would be disadvantageous for him culturally and socially and that the language was being subjugated in favour of English and Afrikaans.

She said she expected him to be taught isiZulu at the same level as English and Afrikaans but the court heard that isiZulu and Afrikaans were taught at lower levels.

There were also fewer isiZulu lessons on the timetable.

Between 80% and 90% of pupils in that year were English mother-tongue speakers and the English taught at the school was at the highest level possible.

The court found that there was no justification to discriminate against isiZulu speakers. The court had been asked to find that isiZulu be taught at the same level as English, but magistrate John Sanders said that while the court supported transformation, this would impose an ideal that no school in the country met and the finding would therefore have no value.

Expressing his personal views, Sanders said the state needed to provide resources to address the situation and said legislation should be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.

The school introduced a new language policy in 2008 with an isiZulu language teacher and the option in grade 10 to take either isiZulu or Afrikaans as an additional language.

The boy has since been moved to another English-medium school in Gauteng where he is studying isiZulu as a second language, His mother believes this to be a compromise. – Sapa