The Bard to stay in class, says education department


The Bard to stay in class, says education department

SHENAAZ JAMAL | 2017-03-29 06:55:53.0

William Shakespeare

Image by: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Department of Basic Education has moved to allay concerns that the works of William Shakespeare will be cut from South Africa’s classrooms in a bid to “decolonise” education.

Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said yesterday there was still space for Shakespeare and the intention was not to replace it but to promote more indigenous work.

“We want to place more emphasis on the content developed by African authors,” said Mhlanga.

Education experts have welcomed more local literature but agree Shakespeare should still feature on school reading lists.

S A History Online , a non-partisan history institution, said it was time African writers were given space in schools.

“Shakespeare’s work is vast and speaks about a lot of topics and we shouldn’t do away with it, but it is important to promote the writings of African authors,” said Saho CEO Omar Bacha.

Wits University languages, literacies and literature professor Leketi Makalela said he agreed Shakespeare should not be replaced but the inclusion of African writers would open up a new consciousness among pupils.

“When you introduce African literature into the schools it begins to affirm the identities [of the pupils]through what they read and the local idioms are relatable,” he said.

“The language of Shakespeare is difficult for an African child for whom English is a second language and who is from a rural area. It is difficult to grasp,” said Makalela.

Governing Body Foundation CEO Tim Gordon said: “We don’t believe Western literature should be removed but more choice than we have had thus far would be a balanced and fair approach.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told parliament recently a focus on “decolonisation” would feature in the curriculum review process.

This would entail the greater inclusion of African and South African writings.

“The consideration of the works of Shakespeare is an aspect of the overall literature review process targeted for 2020 and thus concrete work on this shall only begin in 2018,” Motshekga said.

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