Dropping Afrikaans is ‘short-sighted’

2013-09-06 00:00

A SENIOR Afrikaans lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is adamant the Afrikaans modules should not be axed, claiming it would be a “very short-sighted move by management”.

Lecturer Darryl David said the language department is in the “top five universities” in the country for “Afrikaans education”.

Yesterday, The Witness disclosed information contained in a confidential document, that over 700 subject modules across the four academic colleges would be scrapped from the institution as part of its turnaround strategy and introduction of a minimum enrolment policy.

The proposed minimum enrolments per module needed in order for the module to remain operational are 40, 20, 10 and five for year one, two, three and four respectively.

The document said the most affected faculty would be the College of Humanities, which includes languages, and that 452 modules could face closure or phasing out.

Afrikaans will be decreased by 25 modules,leaving only except for Afrikaans for Beginners.

David said he wanted to debunk the impression that the department “can’t even attract 40 students”.

“Afrikaans had 385 students in 2012 across the three campuses, with only three lecturers. This places us as one of the top five universities for Afrikaans education in SA. We have five Ph.D. students registered for Afrikaans as well as Honours and Masters students. Our ‘problem’ is that we have too few students who choose Afrikaans at second and third year level,” said David.

He said with just one Afrikaans module left — as the restructuring implies — it could very well mean the entire department will be phased out.

“Closing Afrikaans would be a very short-sighted move by management. Afrikaans has just this year been classified as an African language by the Minister of Basic Education.

“Furthermore, from 2014 students at schools will have to study three languages. Against this backdrop, the future of Afrikaans looks rosier than ever,” said David.

He said Afrikaans is not “dying” and that the language opens doors across the country.

“The Afrikaans department at UKZN is confident Afrikaans fits in with the university’s mission of being the premier university of African scholarship,” said David.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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