Learning challenges facing South African students

Inequality is one of the biggest obstacles preventing the country from giving students a fair and quality education.

It is a shame but, the education sector, particularly primary and secondary school learning, is a constant reminder of the country’s unjust past, and recent failures of the government to provide quality education for all students.

In township and rural schools particularly, children face harsh challenges of inadequate infrastructure not conducive to effective learning.

Schools are falling apart, there’s a shocking lack of sanitary facilities available, overcrowded classrooms, problems of unqualified teachers, disciplinary issues, violence in school, and more.

This is the opposite scenario for schools in more “well-off” areas, which are well resourced in ways that help their students to succeed academically.

These factors impact the learning that happens inside classrooms – and urgent solutions are needed to address them.

Effective teaching can improve student success

In spite of these challenges, effective teaching remains a powerful approach.

We know, through research, that effective teaching massively impacts students’ academic, physical, emotional, and behavioral well-being.

Effective teaching happens when stakeholders, policymakers, parents, and communities play an active role in students learning.

A critical part of this is teaching in the language students feel most comfortable in.

This is where education translation comes in. Let’s explore this further in the next section

Language translation in education

Education translation converts written language from one “main” language, to a language of a specific group of people; this helps educators and educational institutions provide a meaningful educational experience to students.

The South African context

Although English is the medium of instruction in most schools. We live in a multi-racial and multicultural society – where students’ native languages intersect with the education they receive.

It is also not uncommon to find schools (mostly primary and secondary school) teaching specific languages such as Isizulu language or Afrikaans language.

What makes education translation important is the fact that even in English-taught schools, there are occasions where content needs to be translated to another language to aid in effective communication.

E.g., school marketing promotions targeting parents of different cultures, or adapting educational content for specific subjects and special classes, as stipulated by the government.

Language translation in south Africa does matter.

Why is translation needed in education?

It engages parents in children’s education

Parents have an important part to play in children’s education. And this goes beyond money-related matters.

Parents can feel left out and frustrated at not being able to help their children with their learning. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Especially in South Africa, it is not uncommon for parents to struggle with English language fluency.
  2. Parents may feel cut out of their children’s education because of a lack of interaction with schools teachers and governing bodies.

A school’s curriculum can be translated for non-english parents to understand what their kids will be learning, for example.

It is no surprise that students succeed academically when parents are active in their education and learning.

Helps students understand important concepts

Some concepts can be truly understood when explained in a person’s native language. Language translation in education can help students understand fundamental concepts of a subject, so they do not lag behind.

Fundamentally, it is about ensuring that one language (such as English) does not become a barrier by providing students with the necessary translation to be successful in class.

When is translation needed in the education system?

The education system is vast and includes many functions and disciplines.

Translation happens when written content is translated from one language to the next, and usually take palace under the following areas:

1. Academic translation

Is often used when thesis papers, degrees, course credits, and more need to be translated to be recognized or validated internationally.

Academic translations span many different styles, genres, and are often created for the purposes of inspiring critical thinking and imagination.

2. Marketing translation

Is the most common translation found in education.

Translation occurs when schools attempt to lure students of different cultures and try to appeal to those students’ parents as well – to consider registering their children in a particular institution.

Marketing translation typically utilizes the following:

  • Brochures and pamphlets
  • Websites
  • Email marketing
  • Prospectuses
  • Student handbooks


3. Translation for bilingual students and parents

Translation also occurs for bilingual parents and children. Often to market schools and aid in the learning experience of these students.

This educational translation includes:

  • Study materials
  • Lesson plans
  • Presentations
  • Textbooks
  • Syllabuses
  • Educational video content
  • Parent permission forms
  • E-learning materials
  • School rules and disciplinary procedures

To wrap up

The way children learn has to be, to an extent – uniform and standardized. It also needs to be flexible and adaptive, especially in a multi-cultural society like South Africa.

Education translation services can help students better understand ( and see the value of) what they are learning. It can help teachers better serve students, in their native languages, and overall, help students and parents navigate the education system with confidence.

You’ve made it all the way here…

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

It was created to offer valuable insights that you can share with your colleagues and co-workers.

We are Afrolingo Translation Company A professional translation and language services company in South Africa.

We use our knowledge of:

  • Translation
  • Transcription
  • Interpretation
  • Software localization
  • Mobile localization
  • Desktop publishing
  • And website publishing

To create localized content and messaging that connects your brand to African audiences, to drive profitable action.