Five Indian languages reinstated as official subjects in South African schools

Indian languages will be recognized as official subjects in South African state schools.

Five Indian languages were reinstated as official subjects that will be taught in South African state schools. The five Indian languages which have been reinstated are Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu and Urdu. These languages were offered as official subjects in schools of South Africa until 1994.

The development was confirmed by Nkosinathi Sishi, the Provincial Head of the Education Department. In this regard the  circular was issued to schools in South Africa on 20 March 2014.


These languages first will be offered as an optional third language for learners only in KwaZulu-Natal province where about 70 percent of the Indian-origin population inhabit.

Further these five Indian languages along with Arabic language will be offered as official subjects up to matric level (final year of schooling) in South Africa.

However, these languages as official subjects will only be offered at schools where the number of learners makes it a viable option to hire specialist teachers in the language concerned.

The five Indian languages Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu and Urdu alongside Arabic are referred as Eastern languages.

In 1994, Indian languages were removed from the official curriculum in South African state schools. Still the schools have been running classes in Indian languages which were not part of the official government-approved curriculum.

Since 2001 National Council for Eastern Languages in South Africa has been requesting to recognize these Eastern languages as official subject to ensure survival of mother tongues amid the growing westernization of Indian youth. 1.4 million Citizens of Indian origin’s representative group in South Africa also pleaded for reinstating the Indian languages as official subjects.

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