Unlocking the grid: Language-in-education policy realisation in post-apartheid South Africa
MetadataShow full item record
This paper reflects on the state of educational language policy two decades into a postApartheid South Africa caught between official multilingualism and English. The focus is on the national language-in-education policy (LiEP) that advocates additive bi/multilingualism, and a provincial counterpart, the language transformation plan (LTP). Using Ricento and Hornberger’s onion metaphor, the paper seeks to uncover the meanings of policy realisation in education at legislative, institutional, and interpersonal levels. The LiEP’s non-realisation at institutional level is indexed by a ‘gridlock of collusion’ (Alexander, personal communication) between political elites and the majority of African-language speakers, who emulatively seek the goods that an English-medium education promises. To illustrate how teachers can become policy advocates, data are presented from a bilingual education in-service programme that supported the LTP. The paper argues that sociolinguistic insights into speakers’ heteroglossic practices should be used to counter prevailing monoglossic policy discourses and school language practices, and that all languages should be used as learning resources. Strategic essentialism would recognise the schooling system’s need to separately classify language subjects and to identify the languages most productively used for teaching across the curriculum. The paper concludes with a call for the revision of the LiEP.