UFS files appeal over High Court decision on language policy

2016-09-16 18:13
UFS students of the #UnsilenceUFS movement (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

UFS students of the #UnsilenceUFS movement (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Bloemfontein - The University of the Free State (UFS) has lodged an appeal over a High Court ruling to stop the implementation of its new language policy, the institution has said.

The Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) in Bloemfontein on Monday granted the university leave to appeal its ruling in favour of civil rights group AfriForum's bid to stop a proposed change to the university's language policy.

Deputy Judge President Fikile Mokgohloa said leave to appeal was granted on condition that the application for leave for direct access to the Constitutional Court is refused.

She said in the meantime university management should put its plans on hold as the matter was currently before the courts.

"The judgment of this court delivered on [July 21] remains in force and is in operation pending the finalisation of the appeals," she said.

The university argued that the High Court had erred in their decision in July.

Disadvantaging coloured students

Jeremy Gauntlett SC, representing the university, told a full bench of judges that AfriForum failed to establish the absence of irreparable harm on the part of the university and the vast majority of its current and prospective students.

"The court was wrong in their decision. [It] was wrong when they said there was no case of compulsory segregation... another court would come with a different conclusion."

In July, the High Court ruled in favour of AfriForum in their bid to stop a proposed change to the UFS's language policy.

At the time Judge Fouche Jordaan said: "The fact that English has been introduced at the UFS, which was a historical Afrikaans university, as a language of instruction does not mean that Afrikaans must inevitably be replaced by English as the dominant language of instruction."

In March, the university decided to make English the primary medium of instruction from 2017, while providing sufficient scope for multilingualism across the university.

Jordaan said the UFS council did not consider constitutional issues involved in the decision on the new language policy.

He said while Afrikaans might be a barrier to black students, English was a barrier to many coloured students who had been victims of past discrimination. A move that decreased the Afrikaans offering would negatively affect them.

Read more on:    ufs  |  language  |  education

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