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Language and Development in Multilingual Settings: A Case Study of Knowledge Exchange and Teacher Education in South Africa

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Abstract

The quality of a country's human-resource base can be said to determine its level of success in social and economic development. This study focuses on some of the major human-resource development issues that surround the implementation of South Africa's policy of multilingualism in education. It begins by discussing the relationship between knowledge, language, and human-resource, social and economic development within the global cultural economy. It then considers the situation in South Africa and, in particular, the implications of that country's colonial and neo-colonial past for attempts to implement the new policy. Drawing on the linguistic-diversity-in-education debate in the United Kingdom of the past three decades, it assesses the first phase of an in-service teacher-education programme that was carried out at the Project for Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) based at the University of Cape Town. The authors identify key short- and long-term issues related to knowledge exchange in education in multilingual societies, especially concerning the use of African languages as mediums for teaching and learning.
Language and Development in Multilingual Settings: A Case Study of Knowledge Exchange and
Teacher Education in South Africa
Author(s): Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
Source:
International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift für
Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l'Education,
Vol. 52, No. 6 (Dec., 2006), pp.
533-552
Published by: Springer
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Review of Education (2006) 52:533-552 ? Springer 2006
DOI 10.1007/S11159-006-9008-X
LANGUAGE AND DEVELOPMENT IN
MULTILINGUAL SETTINGS:
A CASE STUDY OF KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE AND TEACHER
EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
NAZ RASSOOL, VTV EDWARDS and CAROLE BLOCH
Abstract - The quality of a country's human-resource base can be said to determine its
level of success in social and economic development. This study focuses on some of the
major human-resource development issues that surround the implementation of South
Africa's policy of multilingualism in education. It begins by discussing the relationship
between knowledge, language, and human-resource, social and economic development
within the global cultural economy. It then considers the situation in South Africa and,
in particular, the implications of that country's colonial and neo-colonial past for
attempts to implement the new policy. Drawing on the linguistic-diversity-in-education
debate in the United Kingdom of the past three decades, it assesses the first phase of an
in-service teacher-education programme that was carried out at the Project for Alter?
native Education in South Africa (PRAESA) based at the University of Cape Town.
The authors identify key short- and long-term issues related to knowledge exchange in
education in multilingual societies, especially concerning the use of African languages as
mediums for teaching and learning.
Zusammenfassung - SPRACHE UND DIE ENTWICKLUNG IN VIELSPRACHI?
GEN UMGEBUNGEN: EINE FALLSTUDIE DER WISSENSVERMITTLUNG
UND DER LEHRERAUSBILDUNG IN S?DAFRIKA - Die Qualit?t der Wis?
sensbest?nde der Bev?lkerung eines Landes ist die Basis der sozialen und wirtschaftli?
chen Entwicklung. Diese Studie besch?ftigt sich mit einigen Themen in Bezug auf die
Entwicklung von Humanressourcen, die mit der Einf?hrung des Prinzips der Viel?
sprachigkeit im s?dafrikanischen Bildungssystem einher gehen. Am Anfang steht die
Diskussion des Verh?ltnisses zwischen Wissen, Sprache, Humanressourcen und der
sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung innerhalb der globalen kulturellen ?kono?
mie. Es folgt eine Betrachtung der Situation in S?dafrika und im Besonderen der
Konsequenzen, die sich aus der kolonialen und neokolonialen Vergangenheit des
Landes f?r die Bestrebungen ergeben, die neue Politik durchzusetzen. Mit Bezug auf die
Debatte, die in den letzten drei Jahrzehnten in Gro?britannien ?ber die sprachliche
Vielfalt in der Bildung gef?hrt wurde, wird die erste Phase eines bestehenden
Lehrerfortbildungsprogramms bewertet, das vom Projekt f?r alternative Bildung in
S?dafrika (PRAESA) an der Universit?t von Kapstadt entwickelt wurde. Die Auto?
rinnen beschrieben kurzfristige wie langfristige Schl?sselthemen, welche mit der
Wissensvermittlung in der Bildung in vielsprachigen Gesellschaften verbunden sind. Ein
besonderes Augenmerk liegt auf dem Gebrauch afrikanischer Sprachen als Medien f?r
Lehren und Lernen.
R?sum? - LANGUE ET D?VELOPPEMENT DANS LES CADRES MULTILIN?
GUES :
UNE ?TUDE DE CAS DE L'?CHANGE DE CONNAISSANCES ET DE
L'?DUCATION DES ENSEIGNANTS EN AFRIQUE DU SUD - on peut affirmer
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534 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
de la qualit? de la base des ressources humaines qu'elle d?termine le niveau de succ?s
d'un pays dans le d?veloppement ?conomique et social. Cette ?tude se concentre sur
certaines des questions principales de d?veloppement des ressources humaines qui
accompagnent la mise en ?uvre de la politique sud-africaine du multilinguisme dans
l'?ducation. Elle s'ouvre sur une discussion sur le rapport entre la connaissance, la
langue et les ressources humaines, et le d?veloppement ?conomique et social au sein de
l'?conomie culturelle globale. Puis elle consid?re la situation en Afrique du Sud et, en
particulier, les implications du pass? colonial et n?o-colonial de ce pays pour les ten?
tatives de mettre en ?uvre la nouvelle politique. S'inspirant du d?bat sur la diversit?
linguistique de l'?ducation dans le Royaume-Uni de ces trois derni?res d?cennies, elle
?value la premi?re phase d'un programme d'?ducation d'enseignants en service, mis ?
ex?cution dans le Projet pour une Education Alternative en Afrique du Sud (PRAESA)
bas? ? l'Universit? du Cap. Les auteurs identifient les probl?mes cl?s ? court et ? long
terme en liaison avec l'?change de connaissance en ?ducation dans les soci?t?s multi?
lingues, particuli?rement au sujet de l'utilisation des langues africaines comme des
mediums pour enseigner et apprendre.
Resumen - LENGUAJE Y DESARROLLO EN ENTORNOS MULTILINGUES:
ESTUDIO SOBRE UN CASO REAL DE INTERCAMBIO DE CONOCIMIENTOS
Y FORMACI?N DE DOCENTES EN SUD?FRICA - Se puede afirmar que la
calidad de la base de los recursos humanos de un pa?s determinar? el nivel de ?xito de su
desarrollo social y econ?mico. Este estudio se concentra en algunos de los principales
aspectos de desarrollo que enmarcan la implementaci?n de la pol?tica sudafricana de
multiling?ismo en la educaci?n. Comienza con la descripci?n de las relaciones existentes
entre conocimiento, lenguaje, recursos humanos y desarrollo social y econ?mico dentro
del contexto cultural global. Luego, pasa a considerar la situaci?n reinante en Sud?frica
y, en particular, la influencia que el pasado colonial y neocolonial de ese pa?s ejerce
sobre los intentos de implementar la nueva pol?tica. Haciendo un esbozo del debate
sobre diversidad ling??stica que ha tenido lugar en el Reino Unido a lo largo de las
?ltimas tres d?cadas, presenta una evaluaci?n de la primera fase de un programa de
formaci?n pr?ctica de los docentes que se ha realizado en el marco del Proyecto de
Educaci?n Alternativa en Sud?frica (PRAESA) originado en la
Universidad de Ciudad
del Cabo. Las autoras identifican aspectos clave, de corto y largo plazo, relacionados
con el intercambio de informaci?n en la educaci?n en sociedades multilingues, y ante
todo relacionados con el uso de lenguas africanas como medio de ense?anza y de
aprendizaje.
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 535
KOJiOHHajibHoro h HeoKOJiOHHajiBHoro npoiruioro 3toh CTpam>i Ha nontiTKH
peajiH30BaTB hobvio nojnrraKy. OcHOBBiBaacL Ha ?thckvcchh o
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Human resource development, education and capacity building
This paper highlights key areas in a limited programme of in-service teacher
education as part of a joint project involving the Project for Alternative
Education in South Africa (PRAESA), based at the University of Cape
Town, and the University of Reading in the UK. Colleagues in both institu?
tions are currently adapting materials originally designed for UK teachers
working in multilingual schools to the training needs of teachers involved in
implementing South Africa's post-Apartheid policy of multilingual educa?
tion. As a background to this collaboration, we explore issues in human re?
source development (HRD) and capacity development that face South Africa
and many other developing nations. We then examine the differing dis?
courses which have developed in relation to language in education in both
settings, and assess whether this form of knowledge exchange offers a viable
means of addressing some of the HRD needs in language education in
Southern Africa.
It is widely argued that the quality of a country's human resource base
ultimately determines its level of success in social and economic develop?
ment. Harbison (1973, quoted in Todaro 2000: 330) expressed this premise
in the following terms:
Human resources ... constitute the ultimate basis for wealth of nations. Capital
and natural resources are passive factors of production; human beings are the
active agents who accumulate capital, exploit natural resources, build, social, eco?
nomic and political organizations, and carry forward national development. Clear?
ly, a country which is unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people
and to use them effectively in the national economy, will be unable to develop
anything else.
Thus the notion of HRD, aimed at fostering opportunities for people to
develop, or apply, their knowledge and skills in socially and economically
useful ways, is integral to national development policies and programmes.
Since the 1960s, education has been regarded within the policy formula?
tion terrain as an investment in "human capital", comprising aptitudes,
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536 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
motivation, abilities and awarenesses central to worker productivity, as well
as skills and knowledges to be exchanged within the labour market.
Current emphasis on HRD derives from fundamental changes in the
labour market during the past two decades, within a global cultural
economy, which is increasingly driven by technology. These changes have
generated demands for different sets of skills and require new outcomes of
education (Rumberger and Levin 1984; Levin and Rumberger 1995;
Malcolm 2001). The notion of the "learning society" espoused by national
governments, UNESCO and the OECD is increasingly underscored by prin?
ciples such as worker flexibility, which depend on multiskilling, transferable
skills and continuous professional development/skills upgrading. The OECD
(1989), for instance, advocated the need for countries to make adjustments
at micro-economic level, and in institutional dynamics, to enable education
to respond more effectively to rapid shifts in skills and qualifications require?
ments in the labour market. This has translated into arguments for societies
to strengthen the educational infrastructure and HRD in relation to techno?
logical literacy as well as teaching and management skills.
Only those countries with appropriately skilled human resources are able
to compete effectively within the global market (Levin and Rumberger 1995).
As a result, countries within the industrialised world have been making
adjustments in their education policies for at least the past two decades to
accommodate changes in the global labour market. The US, for example,
has concentrated on capacity development in "the enhanced national infor?
mation infrastructure (Nil) focused on building interactive networks in insti?
tutions across the country" (Rassool 1999:189).
In England and Wales, a highly regulated National Curriculum was intro?
duced in 1988 providing students with minimum knowledge entitlements.
Competence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills
constitutes a key skill permeating the National Curriculum. It is within this
context that the New Labour government in its first White Paper Excellence
in Schools (DfEE 1997) took on board the notion of "human capital" in its
vision of education for development. In other OECD countries, too, the
accent has been on HRD grounded in the ideal of the "learning society" and
based on a continuous accumulation of skills and knowledge as important
"cultural capital" (Bourdieu 1991) to be exchanged within a constantly
changing labour market.
In contrast, many developing countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan
Africa (SSA), have been unable to sustain adequate levels of HRD or, put dif?
ferently, to accumulate enough "cultural capital" to support sustainable eco?
nomic and social development. Contributing factors include inadequate
educational infrastructure such as the lack of trained teachers and appropriate
teaching and learning resources which, in turn, impact on literacy rates, and,
therefore, on skills and knowledge levels. The under-development of the hu?
man resource base is a major barrier to social and economic development in
these countries. Indeed, human resource shortages, lack of knowledge, inade
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 537
quate social infrastructure, and the dominance of English in multimedia
textual environments are major inhibiting factors in the diffusion of informa?
tion technology within these societies (ECA 1996). As a result, developing
countries within the SSA region are information-poor societies at the periph?
ery of the interactive global cultural economy (Dordick and Wang 1993).
Language, education and development in South Africa
The official language of teaching and learning within nation states is associ?
ated with high status knowledge and, as such, constitutes a potent form of
cultural capital. Those who are fully literate in the national language have
greater cultural capital to exchange in the labour market than those who
have not. The situation throughout the SSA region is compounded by an
historical legacy of a mismatch between the actual languages used within
society, the country's development goals, and the official languages for teach?
ing and learning. When the national language is an international (ex-colo?
nial) language, such as English, French, Portuguese or Spanish, this creates
additional barriers to literacy acquisition for ethno-linguistic minority groups
living mainly in rural areas who have less access to the languages in ques?
tion. These disparities contribute to uneven development between regions.
They have also had other socio-cultural effects.
The drive for literacy in these powerful languages, as well as the lack of
policy support for minority language maintenance programmes in education,
has relegated many local languages to low status, domain-specific, oral usage
and contributed to economic and social disparities between elites and other
social groups. According to Myers-Scotton (1993: 156) "what sets elites
apart from nonelites is their frequent use of the [non-native] official lan?
guage, both for business and in their private life". Agheyisi (1977: 99), for
instance, argues that "it is now possible to talk of a special social "class" of
Nigerians, comprising members from various ethnic and linguistic groups,
for whom the "public" and indeed prominent use of English exists as one of
their salient status symbols". Fluency in English within this context has be?
come associated with "being educated", and therefore is seen as a pre-requisite
for upward social mobility. As will be discussed later, this is also the case in
South Africa. These practices and cultural aspirations play an important role
in shaping the social character, and in the process, reinforce existing unequal
language relations. And thus they contribute to the self-marginalisation of
local languages.
Such linguistic choices also have practical implications for education.
They often translate into unequal allocation of teaching and learning
resources in favour of these international languages, at the expense of
support for indigenous languages. Mansoor (unpublished), describing the
language in education situation in Pakistan, found that "materials for High?
er Education are mostly in English (60%) followed by materials in Urdu
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538 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
(25%)" which is the national language. Her research also showed that mate?
rials in regional languages were limited (5%) and of poor quality. Lack of
adequate resources have contributed to vast differences in literacy, knowl?
edge and skills levels between regions and sub-regions (UNESCO 1995),
which, in turn, impact negatively on national levels of HRD.
The skills and knowledge divide between industrialised and developing
countries is amplified as contemporary South Africa emerges from its succes?
sive colonial, and neo-colonial past and attempts to implement the multilin?
gual policy in education adopted by the post-Apartheid South African
government. Discussion of language in education in this context needs to be
viewed within the broad political and ideological project of the Apartheid
State.
English - the previous colonial language, and Afrikaans - the language of
Apartheid neo-colonialism, consolidated a society which was, on the one
hand, fractured along the horizontal axis of a racialised ethnicity and, on the
other, stratified along the vertical axis of social and economic inequality. Mo?
ther-tongue education presented as the right of each ethnic group to promote
their own language and culture played a pivotal role in securing Apartheid
hegemony (Alexander 1989). Black children were to be schooled in their mo?
ther tongue for the first 8 years of primary school, before switching to English
and Afrikaans. Fifty per cent of their subjects were to be taught in Afrikaans,
and the other 50% in English (Heugh 2000). While there are strong argu?
ments for the educational benefits of this approach (see, for instance, Cum?
mins 2001), we need to look more closely at the political and ideological
project of Bantu Education during the Apartheid period. As argued earlier,
mother tongue teaching in South Africa was significant and had a profound
effect on the life experiences of the country's black population groups. As ar?
gued earlier, mother tongue teaching represented the bedrock of "separate
development" and formed part of an ideology of "nation" grounded in white
supremacy. As such, it has much in common with the significant role that the
notion of mother tongue played in the social construction of the German con?
cept of Volk during the 1930s and early 1940s (Hutton 1999). Within the dis?
course of an idealised "pure" German nation, "the mother tongue was the
force that could speak for race; it could recreate race in its own image and be
its voice" (Hutton 1999:9). The notion of mother tongue also represented an
organizing principle of the Afrikaner notion of Volk in Apartheid South Afri?
ca. The underlying aim was to legitimate the idea of an Afrikaner Volk pro?
tected against the hegemony of English. At the same time, it sought to
engender a divided "ethnic" consciousness amongst the different social groups
within the country - and thus to secure the separatism that provided the basis
of Apartheid ideology. It gave expression to Verwoerd's 1953 argument that
"education must train and teach people in accordance with their opportuni?
ties in life, according to the sphere in which they live" (cited in Troup 1976).
The political intentions of mother tongue education policy were clearly
stated and, in the main, were fulfilled; in practice, mother tongue education
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 539
served a powerful means of delimiting the life chances of African pupils.
Since many black pupils (at least 80%) were forced to leave school early
because of family poverty, this policy translated into minimal levels of func?
tional literacy in their mother tongue - and even less in the two official lan?
guages. Education for the majority of the black population groups was
therefore limited to those skills that would have made them productive only
as manual labourers. Thus it consolidated Verwoerd's (1953) position that
"there is no place for the Bantu in the European community above the level
of certain forms of labour" (cited in SACHED 1986:12).
Racial inequality formed the basis of the doctrine of Christian National
Education (CNE), which underpinned the state's hegemonic project in edu?
cation. It stated that:
Native education should be based on the principles of trusteeship, non-equality; its
aim should be to inculcate the white man's view of life, especially that of the Boer
nation, which is the senior trustee. (CNE 1948:23)
Moreover, within the broader context of CNE doctrine, all teachers were to
be trained to produce efficient and loyal citizens, consistent with the aims of
Apartheid education. Thus they were to be imbued with "the ideal of teaching
towards the development of men and women of rectitude, efficient and loyal
citizens of their country" (Beard and Morrow 1981:9). This form of hege?
monic control was consolidated in Fundamental Pedagogics, an authoritar?
ian philosophical approach to education comprising formal didactics, which
invested the educator with supreme authority and thus reduced the learner
to a passive receptor of knowiedge (Khuzwayo 1997).
The mother tongue was to be taught through linguistics and literature,
with language teaching centring on a formal structural approach, emphasiz?
ing the learning of grammatical rules. This rigid teacher-centred pedagogical
approach, accompanied by a circumscribed and highly regulated curriculum,
left little scope for learning experiences focused on teaching and learning
processes; it left no room for alternative critical teaching approaches. Within
the context of Bantu Education, African languages were stigmatised as
"Other", and thus inferior, in the educational policy framework. The Bantu
language syllabus (Joint Matriculation Board 1979: 3) stated that:
Because the Bantu languages differ so much from the European languages it is
necessary that the Bantu child should not view his (sic) mother tongue as if it
were a European language. He must therefore be taught that his mother tongue
has its peculiar character, which cannot be derived from European languages. He
has to learn that his mother tongue is much more bound up with form, that in its
system of writing it does not necessarily follow the European languages..."
Embedded in CNE ideology of separatism, the emphasis here on differences is
particularly noteworthy; it signified cultural/racial "Otherness", and, implicitly,
the inherent inferiority of African languages. As is discussed earlier, this world
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540 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
view translated into lack of political and societal support for the development
of African languages. Alexander and Heugh (1998/1999: 14-15) argue that:
African languages were deliberately developed as ^?^?w-languages, i.e.
even where it was possible in linguistic and political terms to allow the varieties of
a particular language cluster or sub-group, such as the "Nguni" group, to con?
verge into a more embracing standard written form, they were systematically kept
separate through lexical and other corpus-planning manoeuvres. The languages
concerned were, moreover, starved of essential resources in such a way that they
could not be used in contexts that implied or demonstrated real power. General
social and political policies ensured throughout the era of high apartheid that the
African languages remained languages of low status.
Apartheid policy thus left a legacy of complex language problems to be
solved in education. As a means of redress, the post-Apartheid government
has opted for 11 official languages (nine African, English and Afrikaans),
with each province choosing its own official languages suited to its popula?
tion/linguistic groupings (Department of Education 1997). Placing emphasis
on re-instating previously subjugated languages, the government has
extended powers to school governing bodies "to determine the language pol?
icy of the school" subject to the Constitution, the South African Schools Act
(1996) and provincial law. How7 successfully this human rights approach to
policy translates into practice depends to a significant extent on the avail?
ability of adequately skilled language teachers and appropriate teaching
resources. It also depends on a significant shift in language attitudes
amongst all population groups. In practice, there are still major problems to
be overcome.
Our discussion thus far highlights several aspects that militate against
successful language policy implementation. First, the history of curriculum
rigidities, which sought to secure social and ideological control during the
Apartheid epoch, has implications for teacher responses to the requirements
of new educational policy demands, which are centred on the learner, and a
learning-centred curriculum framework. This philosophical shift suggests a
move away from rigid curriculum impositions towards teachers having rela?
tive autonomy in negotiating curriculum content and teaching materials. In
order for this to take place effectively there is a need for teachers to have
been inducted into a process-based approach to teaching and learning
grounded in the principles of professional reflexivity.
Second, the predominance of formal teaching approaches embedded in
the pedagogical framework ratified by the old Apartheid regime centred on a
one-way flow of set "knowledges". This contrasts with approaches to mother
tongue teaching such as team teaching, the use of bilingual story telling and
book making which depend on "soft skills" technology such as co-operative
planning, teamwork, communication, decision-making and negotiating
curriculum outcomes.
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 541
Third, the historical stigmatisation of African languages as different and,
therefore, inferior to European languages has left a legacy of antipathy
towards multilingualism amongst black population groups. This, as well as
the powerful role that English played as a counter-hegemonic symbol of the
struggle against Apartheid, has led to an uncritical, unquestioning belief,
especially amongst middle class groups across the cultural spectrum, in the
power of English as an international language over the educational, cultural
and economic value of indigenous languages (Giliomee et al. 2005). There
are many commonalities with the linguistic elites of Nigeria emphasised by
Myers-Scotton as was discussed earlier, and can therefore be seen as part of
the colonial heritage. For these groups the need to shift parental attitudes
represents a major obstacle; so too is the lack of "teacher preparedness"
(M?tala 2001). At the same time, recent small scale classroom research
focused on Grades 4 and 7 Xhosa speakers in inner city schools is encourag?
ing. This research showed that these children's vocabulary was richer when
they communicated in their mother tongue than in English (Desai 2001).
This underscores the significance of mother tongue education, at least in the
primary school phase. Moreover, research conducted by Schlemmer and
Giliomee (2004) reported strong parental support for mother tongue
education amongst all ethnic groups, namely, 61% of "Blacks", 73% of
"Coloureds", 61% of "Whites", 80% of white "Afrikaners" and 66% of
English-speaking "whites". Earlier research by Giliomee and Schlemmer
(2001) indicated support for mother tongue education particularly amongst
Sotho (70%), Venda (85%) and Afrikaans (70%) speakers.
Fourth, the history of under-education/under-development of human
resources in education, especially those teaching in black township schools,
has resulted in a pool of under-trained teaching staff throughout the coun?
try. More specifically, the erstwhile emphasis on formal teaching approaches
has resulted in a shortage of teachers adequately equipped to deliver the new
learner centred and process-oriented curriculum, and especially the skills and
knowledge needed in teaching for additive bilingualism. Such approaches
foreground the learner, and redefine teachers" role to that of a facilitator of
learning building on the knowledge and experiences that children bring to
classrooms.
These are not insurmountable problems, neither are they necessarily
unique. In the UK, for example, the need to address the issue of teaching
for linguistic diversity including bilingualism and multilingualism, have pre?
vailed in educational discourse over the past few decades.
Multilingual UK
The UK, like South Africa, is a multilingual country, although the history,
nature and extent of linguistic diversity are very different. It is ironic that the
same forces that led to the emergence of English as a global language
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542 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
(Crystal 1997) have led to increasing linguistic diversity in all the countries
where English is spoken by the majority of the population, including the
UK. A recent survey of London schoolchildren, for instance, revealed that
over thirty per cent of respondents were bilingual, speaking between them
more than 300 different languages (Baker and Eversley 2000).
The response of schools to children who arrived speaking other languages
has changed considerably over time. Policy and practice in the 1950s and
1960s was laissez faire; the unquestioned assumption was that children
would "pick up English in the playground" and that the language of the
home had no place in schools. It was some time before the consequences of
inaction were finally acknowledged: far too many children exposed to "sub?
mersion English" were sinking rather than swimming. Funding to address
the language learning needs of language minority children first became avail?
able in 1966 under Section 11 of the Local Government Act. Teaching took
place in special reception centres or "withdrawal" classes in the same school
and the sole emphasis was on learning English. No attention was paid to the
linguistic and cultural capital (Bourdieu 1991) that children brought with
them to the classroom.
The importance of children's first languages was first recognised officially
in the 1975 Bullock Report, A Language for Life, which made an impas?
sioned plea for schools to respect the cultural and linguistic diversity of their
students: "No child should be expected to cast off the language and culture
of the home as he crosses the school threshold and the curriculum should
reflect those aspects of his life". Bilingualism was presented as an asset to be
nurtured and schools were encouraged to "help maintain and deepen...
knowledge of the mother tongues" (p. 543). Other developments added
weight to the recommendations of the Bullock Report. A 1977 Directive
from the Council of Europe required member states to promote the teaching
of the mother tongue of the children of migrant workers "in accordance
with national circumstances and legal systems." The UK response was slug?
gish and in 1984 only 2.2%) of primary aged children from other language
backgrounds were receiving home language teaching in school (EC 1984).
Nonetheless, a growing emphasis was placed on developing children's full
linguistic repertoire and language teaching was expanded to include the
teaching of non-traditional languages.
UK attitudes towards bilingualism are inconsistent (Edwards 2004). Offi?
cial support is given to education through the medium of Welsh in
Wales,
Gaelic in Scotland and Irish in Ireland, where the aim is balanced bilingualism
and full biliteracy. The possibility of extending bilingual education to other
languages, however, received a body blow with the publication in 1985 of
the S
wann Report, Education for All, which recommended that there should
be no separate provision for language maintenance programs. In the belief
that any attempt to promote minority languages in the mainstream was
potentially divisive, the main responsibility was placed on ethnic minority
communities themselves. There were two exceptions to this policy (Bourne
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 543
1989). The first was that, where practicable, children should be provided
with "bilingual support" - classroom assistants or teachers able to speak to
them in their own language and help them make the transition from home
to school; the second was the inclusion of non-traditional languages in the
curriculum of secondary schools where there was sufficient demand. At a
grassroots level, there was a great deal of experimentation into ways in
which other languages might be used in the classroom, and, a growing
emphasis on anti-racist teaching initiatives.
Another development in the mid-1980s had far-reaching implications for
policy. Following an investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality
into Calderdale Local Education Authority (CRE 1986) bilingual pupils
were returned to mainstream classrooms. The practice of providing separate
English language teaching was deemed to be discriminatory on two main
grounds. First, the only native-speaking English model available to children
in this separate provision was the teacher. In contrast, if children were
taught in mainstream classrooms, they would have access not only to a lar?
ger number of native speakers, but also to a much wider range of genuine
communication through the medium of English. Second, children who were
spending between one and 2 years receiving intensive English language
teaching were falling even further behind in curricular terms. The growing
body of research on language teaching methodology suggesting that a sec?
ond language could be learned more effectively through curriculum content
than by using more traditional approaches (see, for instance, Mohan 1979;
Krashen 1982) made arguments that the mainstream was the best place for
language learners even more persuasive. This new policy direction was not,
however, intended to mark a return to the sink- or sw?m philosophy and
practice of the 1950s and 1960s. The intention was instead to provide
"language support"; specialist English teachers were to be moved to main?
stream classes where they would work in partnership with class and subject
teachers (Bourne 1989).
In practice, these "partnerships" were problematic. Language support
teachers complained about their lack of status and the fact that class and
subject teachers often treated them as classroom assistants, rather than spe?
cialist colleagues. In addition, support teachers were very thinly spread;
small numbers of teachers were often expected to work with large numbers
of pupils and classes. In order for this model to work effectively, mainstream
teachers needed to understand the principles underpinning language support
so that they, in turn, could apply these principles when the specialist teacher
was not present. In many cases, however, mainstream teachers abdicated
responsibility for bilingual pupils to the support teacher with the result that,
once more, children were expected to sink or swim.
Radical changes in the funding, content and control of education in the
late 1980s had a further detrimental effect on the education of language
minority students. All professional development in the years following the
Education Reform Act 1988 focused on the implementation of a new
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544 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
national curriculum and teachers were, in effect, given permission to sweep
matters relating to the needs of bilingual pupils under the carpet. Also in the
early 1990s, the criteria for the Section 11 funding were reviewed. LE As
were required to submit proposals for specific fixed term projects in order to
making spending on bilingual pupils more accountable, since there were sus?
picions that funds were being used in ways which only indirectly benefited
this group of children. However, in narrowing the uses to which Section 11
monies could be put, the exclusive emphasis was now on English language
teaching. This made it very difficult, for instance, for language support
teachers to continue the professional development role which they had
developed over the years, or to fund initiatives to teach community lan?
guages in school. The replacement of Section 11 with the Single Regeneration
Budget in some authorities (Passmore 1994) also had the effect of putting
language support in competition with other services, such as housing and
community services. Further unfortunate by-products of the reforms were
the loss of many posts, the threat to job security and the undermining of
morale.
Pressure from teacher organisations produced a gradual softening on the
part of central government, including the announcement in 1995 of the
"Meeting the needs of bilingual pupils" initiative. Bids were invited from
higher education and local education authority partnerships for courses that
were to prepare mainstream class and subject teachers to "meet the needs of
bilingual pupils". This initiative was important for two main reasons: first,
bilingual pupils had resumed their rightful place on the educational agenda;
second, it addressed the need for mainstream teachers to take responsibility
for the bilingual learners in their classes. Questions have, however, been
raised about whether this development was too little, too late and scepticism
has been expressed as to whether the real aim was to remove the need for
specialist support teachers, thereby reducing costs.
The main challenge for those responding to this initiative was the dearth
of suitable training materials. In an attempt to address this problem, three
packs were developed at the University of Reading: Speaking and listening in
multilingual classrooms, reading in multilingual classrooms and writing in mul?
tilingual classrooms (Edwards 1996a, b, c). These packs consist of a course
leader's handbook, accompanying overhead transparencies and handouts,
and a teacher's book that sets out and expands on the main issues covered
in the course. It was intended that materials should be used flexibly accord?
ing to the needs of different groups.
Knowledge exchange: a UK-South African experience
There are very obvious differences between the situations in South Africa
and the UK. Although there are notable exceptions - for instance, in certain
schools in East London where the overwhelming majority of pupils come
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 545
from Bangladeshi families - most children from linguistic minority commu?
nities in the UK have easy access to English: they usually learn in classes
taught by teachers for whom English is the mother tongue alongside
English-speaking peers and are exposed to English as well as minority
language media (Edwards 2004). In South Africa, in contrast, especially in
the rural areas and townships, the main exposure to English is in classrooms
where teachers' competence in English may be limited. Yet despite these
differences, there was sufficient commonality to make cooperation an inter?
esting prospect in the area of teacher training for multilingual classrooms an
interesting prospect. In particular, both countries are attempting to improve
provision for large numbers of children for whom English is not the first
language and whose mother tongues are often stigmatised. There therefore
seemed ample opportunities to draw on Bakhtin's dialogical principle that
"all discourse is in dialogue with prior discourses on the same subject"
(Todorov 1984).
The South African partner in this venture in knowledge exchange is the
Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA),
an independent research and development organisation attached to the Fac?
ulty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town. Established in 1992,
PRAESA emerged from the struggle against apartheid education. The ratio?
nale for the research and development activities of the project research con?
tinues to be the d?mocratisation of South African society, particularly in the
key area of language-in-education.
The Early Literacy Unit at PRAESA is increasingly concerned with train?
ing and materials development in response to recent policy developments
both in South Africa and beyond its borders in southern Africa. The Wes?
tern Cape Education Department, for instance, has adopted a literacy strat?
egy which aims "to strengthen the teaching and learning of languages (with
a special focus on reading, writing and comprehension) in the context of the
South African Language in Education policy" (WCED 2002: 1). The literacy
strategy includes teacher training in methods for teaching reading and writ?
ing, stimulating and supporting reading for enjoyment and operating effec?
tively in multilingual classrooms. PRAESA is well placed to respond to the
training opportunities provided by these new developments. It already deliv?
ers courses customised to the needs of different client groups. Examples have
included short programmes for foundation phase teachers in six schools in
Langa, a township to the west of Cape Town, and for the Central Educa?
tional Management Development Centre (EMDC) on effective approaches to
reading and writing in two languages. Its involvement in training extends be?
yond South Africa through a pilot "Training of Trainers: multilingual edu?
cation" programme, offered as a post graduate diploma/masters in education
at the University of Cape Town, and drawing on trainers from throughout
Southern Africa. The decision of the Western Cape Education Department
in 2005 to begin the implementation of mother tongue based bilingual edu?
cation is likely to provide a wide range of further training.
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546 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
Adapting the materials
Working together as part of the British Council Higher Education Link
Scheme, we have set about the task of adapting the British training materials
for use in Southern Africa. The first stage of a three year programme has
been to review the content and shape of the existing training materials, iden?
tifying topics and approaches which apply equally in both situations, as well
as gaps in the materials and areas covered in the UK packs which do not
transfer easily to the South African context.
One aspect of the UK packs which made them an obvious candidate for
knowledge exchange is the fact that they address two important current
requirements for training in South Africa: they offer a process-based
approach to teaching and learning, grounded in the principles of profes?
sional reflexivity; and they include opportunities to respond to the needs of a
learner-centred curriculum. A number of assumptions were made in develop?
ing the packs:
? In order to be effective teachers, we need an understanding both of the
relevant theory and examples of good practice, which can inform our
work.
? Classrooms are complex communities. Often there are several possible
courses of action. Sometimes there is no obvious solution to a problem.
? Teachers have varying levels of experience and confidence. It is very
important to start from where they are and to build on what they know.
Edwards (1996a, b, c: 1)
These assumptions make the materials particularly well suited to the needs
of South African teachers, shaped by a long history of a teacher-centred
pedagogical approach and a highly circumscribed and regulated curriculum.
UK expertise was also valuable in production. The experience of having
produced the original training packs was useful in determining both the dif?
ferent elements that would be necessary in the development of the South
African materials and aspects of project management. It was also possible to
adapt the Word template employed by trainers on a separate project for use
with the South African materials. As part of the same process, British partic?
ipants were able to upgrade South African colleagues" skills in IT, presenta?
tion and design.
When any materials are transferred from one setting to another, there are
issues of "localisation". In many cases, the necessary adaptations are of a
superficial nature: photographs required to illustrate an exercise on stereo?
typing, for instance, need to reflect the population of South Africa rather
than the UK. In the British materials, an exercise in simulating the experi?
ence of learning to read in another language uses Dutch as an example; in
the new setting it will be more appropriate to use an African language.
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 547
In other cases, it is necessary to omit themes and activities altogether. The
writing pack, for instance, features an activity designed to draw attention to
the difficulties of learning a new script. Participants are invited to copy
sentences in Panjabi and Bengali scripts, w7hich hang down from the line, in
Urdu, which runs from left to right, and in Chinese, where each character is
constructed within a notional square from different strokes in a clearly
prescribed sequence. Given that all the official languages of South Africa are
written in a roman script, there is no need for an exercise of this kind.
It has also been important to acknowledge - and exploit - differences
between South African and British teachers. Most of the teachers who form
the audience for the UK packs are monolingual English speakers, with no
personal experience that they can relate to the bilingual pupils in their
classes. Most teachers in Southern Africa, in contrast, are bilingual or even
multilingual. Although they have, in many cases, accepted uncritically the
hegemony of English and the low7 status of local languages, they are better
able to relate to the situation of children educated through the medium of a
language which is not their mother tongue. An activity included in the South
African pack, which builds on this understanding, invites participants to
shade or colour different parts of a line drawing intended to represent their
body to reflect the languages that they speak. South African teachers were
initially cautious about an open-ended exercise of this kind, but soon
responded enthusiastically to a task which required them to reflect upon
their own experiences.
There have, however, been some unexpected developments as we have
worked through these early stages. We had not envisaged, for instance, the
extent to which the adaptation of the packs would help in the revision and
improvement of the original materials for ongoing use in the UK; this was
not one of the original aims of the project. Yet as we contemplated the
needs of South African trainers, it was necessary to confront questions of
organisation, which had not been satisfactorily addressed in the rush to
produce materials for the UK. The initial division into speaking and listen?
ing, reading and writing neatly mirrored the different language skills; it
was, however, overly simplistic and had resulted, in practice, in unnecessary
compartmentalisation and lost opportunities for making links between simi?
lar learning processes. By reviewing developments in theory and practice in
the 7 years since the materials were first written, we were able to develop a
clearer vision of the programme as a whole, and to consider other ways of
organising the materials. We have now produced an alternative and far more
flexible framework. The materials are no longer offered as a set curriculum
to be presented in a fixed order; they can be used on their own or can sup?
plement existing training materials in such a way that trainers can "pick and
mix" to suit their own requirements.
UK trainers have also benefited from the collaboration by revisiting issues
relating to production. The challenges for trainers in both settings are in fact
quite similar: the small numbers of packs required and the many different
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548 Naz Rassool, Viv Edwards and Carole Bloch
elements - handbook, OHTs, handouts - mean that the unit cost is necessar?
ily high. While limited education budgets in the UK pale into insignificance
next to the scarce resources in southern Africa, expense is nonetheless an
important consideration in both countries. The solution adopted for the ori?
ginal UK training materials was printing on demand; with the exception of
the teachers" books, high-resolution elements of the pack were printed or
photocopied only when an order was received. This approach was nonethe?
less time-consuming and costly. Considerable technological advances have
been made since 1995, which benefit both South African and UK trainers.
The most important of these is the development of the World Wide Web.
The materials can now be downloaded as individual Word files from the
Training for Early Literacy Learning (TELL) website (www.tell.praesa.org)
and adapted as necessary.
The materials developed jointly by PRAESA and the University of Read?
ing are being trialled and evaluated on courses offered in South Africa.
Although the packs are informed by extensive experience of multilingual
classrooms in both locations, and considerable experience of materials devel?
opment in the UK, their use in actual training situations will undoubtedly
lead to a great deal of further refinement.
Conclusion
The paper discussed a limited programme of in-service teacher education
involving knowledge exchange between the University of Reading in the UK
and the PRAESA, centred on the training needs of teachers working in mul?
tilingual classrooms throughout the greater Cape Town region. The paper
contextualised the existing skills and knowledge gaps in this area within the
broader theoretical framework of historical language-state relations within
South Africa during the Apartheid period. The discussion identified several
aspects of past policies that, to a significant extent, have contributed to the
lack of expertise and knowledge as well as language attitudes generally
amongst teachers in post-Apartheid South Africa. We argued that the for?
mer emphasis on a rigid national curriculum framework, and highly regu?
lated educational system during the Apartheid years, has left a legacy of
under-qualified teachers locked into a teacher-centred, transmission model
and linguistics based approach to language education. Moreover, the status
of English, first, as a counter-hegemonic language, and, second, as an inter?
national language has influenced attitudes negatively towards using African
languages as mediums for teaching and learning.
During the period of devising the training materials we were also acutely
aware of historical power imbalances between the United Kingdom and
South Africa. We were particularly concerned that the project should not
replicate the one-way model of knowledge transfer - from the metropolitan,
ex-colonial "mother-country" to the emerging post-colonial nation-state. As
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Language and Development in
Multilingual Settings 549
stated earlier, knowledge exchange between countries inevitably involves
degrees of "localisation", that is to say, adapting materials to suit the local
base. We anticipated this to be a linear process involving changing surface
aspects of the materials such as images and scripts. However, in practice, we
found that we were constantly being informed by conditions, experiences
and expectations grounded in the unique situation that prevailed in South
Africa. We became aware, increasingly, of the complexities presented by the
Apartheid experience and its long-term impact on teachers" awarenesses,
knowledge base and attitudes. As a result the process became a two-way
flow of knowledge and expertise as we were becoming engaged in an ongo?
ing critical dialogue, working reflexively with the materials, questioning our
own assumptions and values. Another consequence was that we changed the
entire approach of the materials moving away from a rigid framework cen?
tred on using the materials programmatically. Our PRAESA partner found
that the UK materials took for granted knowledges and awarenesses that
needed to be made more explicit for South African teachers. For example,
the separation of the four language arts - speaking and listening, reading
and writing - needed to be integrated in order to counter the historical expe?
rience of South African teachers of separating skills and knowledges within
the erstwhile structural approach to language teaching. In adopting a more
inclusive, integrated and flexible approach, allowing trainers to make
decisions about which materials to use in their training programmes, we pro?
vided for greater teacher autonomy. The next stage involves translation of
the materials into French for use in other African states as well as African
languages throughout South Africa and the rest of Africa to enable teachers
to teach in their mother tongues. To this end, PRAESA has already pro?
duced an in-service training video providing an example of good practice in
a multilingual classroom. These initiatives will raise the project to a different
dimension, and will involve, for example, also translation of terminology
into other languages and developing discourse styles, contributing thus
towards the intellectualisation of African languages. In this regard, we view
this article as part of the process of reflection on the project, including the
practical aspects of adapting the materials whilst, at the same time, being
informed by existing theories on language in education as well as sociocul
tural and political conditions in South Africa.
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The authors
Naz Rassool is Reader in Education at the University of Reading, where she
is also Director of the MA in Organisation, Planning and Management in
Education Programme. Her research interests lie in language and identity,
and the political economy of language.
Contact address: Institute of Education, University of Reading, Bulmershe
Court, Reading RG6 1HY, E-mail: N.rassool@reading.ac.uk.
Viv Edwards is Professor of Language in Education at the University of
Reading, where she is also director of the National Centre for Language and
Literacy. She is editor of the international journal, Language and Education.
Her main research interests lie in teaching and learning in multilingual
classrooms.
Contact address: NCLL, University of Reading, Bulmershe Court, Read?
ing, RG6 1HY, UK. E-mail: V.k.edwards@reading.ac.uk.
Carole Bloch works with the Project for the Study of Alternative Education
in South Africa (PRAESA) in the field of Early Childhood Development.
She has concentrated for many years on finding ways to enable young
children's effective literacy learning, first as a teacher, then as a researcher
and teacher educator.
Contact address: PRAESA, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape
Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa. E-mail:
cbloch@humanities.uct.ac.za
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