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MEC Lesufi adamant ‘Afrikaans is not under siege’

The MEC says he’s merely working to create a non-racial school environment that offers quality education.

A debate, between AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel and Lesufi in Tembisa, on the future of Afrikaans schools has been held in Thembisa. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has assured the Afrikaans community that their language is not under threat, and says he's merely working to create a non-racial school environment that offers quality education for all children.

Lesufi and AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel yesterday took part in a public debate in Tembisa about the future of Afrikaans schools.

AfriForum accused Lesufi of attacking the language and Afrikaans culture in light of the recent Constitutional Court judgment on admissions policy.

Kriel accused Lesufi of depriving black children of quality education by not addressing the real problems that face the schooling system.

"You are becoming a barrier to access quality education to black children if you're focusing on the wrong target."

But Lesufi said Afrikaans schools are exclusively white and it's time for that to change.

"Don't even try to attack our commitment to a non-racial South Africa," he said.

AfriForum says it will continue to fight for the retention of Afrikaans schools.

Kriel says 80 percent of the province's schools are dysfunctional.

But Lesufi says he's only trying to undo what the apartheid government did.

"We've paid a heavy price to believe in non-racialism. We've accepted reconciliation as a root to build this country."

While the debate left more questions than answers on whether the language issue will be resolved amicably, the two parties have been applauded for taking the first step to try and address the issue.

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