The education department’s ability to bring the Khoi, Nama, and San languages into South African schools has been questioned by King Khoisan SA. This was since, according to King Khoisan SA, the government has yet to legally recognize King Khoisan SA and his people’s language, Kwazi-Khoe. For almost four years now, the king and a few of his supporters have been camped out on the grounds of Union Buildings close to the Nelson Mandela statue.

This follows the national education department’s announcement that it wished to add African languages as a second extra form of learning to the school curricula in order to support the teaching of the continent’s historically underrepresented African languages. The launch is aimed at around 2 584 schools that do not already offer African languages. Since November 2018, King Khoisan’s group has pushed for the recognition of the Khoisan people as South Africa’s first indigenous nation.

Additionally, they demand that Kwazi-Khoe be added to the list of official languages and that the term “coloured” be eliminated from all official government papers. Even after sending their demands to then-deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, the group’s demands have not been satisfied since they camped out at the Union Buildings.

Khoi, Nama, San, and sign languages will be included as new courses to the South African school curriculum, according to basic education minister Angie Motshekga. On Tuesday of last week, during a discussion of the department’s budget vote in the National Council of Provinces, Motshekga highlighted the planned policy change to encourage mother-tongue teaching and learning in schools (NCOP).

King Khoisan SA urged the government to make the languages official first before making them widely available, for the benefit of all students. “As the first nation, it is our responsibility to make sure that the education department follows the law,”. He argued that it was improper to include intentions to teach their language in schools when it was still not formally recognized by the government by placing it on the coat of arms.

Reporter: Palesa Maneli

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