Fewer lectures offered in Afrikaans, Stellenbosch University language policy case hears

2017-08-17 12:34

Advocate Jan Heunis, president of Stellenbosch University's convocation, on Wednesday spoke on behalf of the Gelyke Kanse (Equal Chances) campaign, the convocation and six students in  the High Court in Cape Town, during an application to review and set aside the newly-adopted language policy. (Michelle van der Spuy, Netwerk24)

Advocate Jan Heunis, president of Stellenbosch University's convocation, on Wednesday spoke on behalf of the Gelyke Kanse (Equal Chances) campaign, the convocation and six students in the High Court in Cape Town, during an application to review and set aside the newly-adopted language policy. (Michelle van der Spuy, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Despite the fact that Stellenbosch University (SU) insists that it doesn't want to do away with Afrikaans, its policy with regard to its language of instruction doesn't reflect the same guarantees for English and Afrikaans, and fewer lectures are being offered in Afrikaans.

That was the reply of Advocate Jan Heunis, president of the SU convocation, to the university's testimony in the case to review and set aside the language policy, Netwerk24 reported.

Judge Daniel Dlodlo and Judge Kate Savage have reserved judgment in the case, which is being heard in the High Court in Cape Town.

Heunis said that despite George Steyn, the chair of the SU council, saying the policy "won't noticeably decrease the number" of lectures offered in Afrikaans, this is what it boils down to, as just English is a guaranteed language of instruction.  

SU's new parallel medium policy was approved in June 2016 and introduced this year.

It provides for teaching in only English, while Afrikaans is still being kept and developed as an academic language.

'Irrational process' vs 'thorough, intensive process'

According to Heunis, there is proof that an "irrational process" was followed, and allegedly driven by the rector's management team, to accept the new policy after complaints about the language of instruction were received from students in 2014.

He claims that the university changed its policy about Afrikaans amid fears that violence could break out.

Earlier in the day, Advocate Jeremy Muller for SU, SU Council and SU chair, said a "thorough, intensive process" had been followed before the final decision was taken.

According to Heunis, an attempt hadn't even been made to prove that the senate and the council of SU had considered the costs involved in launching the policy and, he said, input from the working group, which had set up the policy, had been ignored.   

"We aren't saying there shouldn't be any English, but that Afrikaans offering shouldn't be reduced. It already is an academic language and should be kept as such."

Muller denied that a small group of students had prescribed to management concerning what the policy should be. He also said Afrikaans didn't have the same protection in terms of the Constitution as that of other languages.

Despite the fact that most of the Coloured people in the Western Cape's first language is Afrikaans, only 37% applied to have lectures offered in that language, said Muller.
 


Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  education  |  language

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