Johannesburg – As the University of Pretoria weighs its options on whether lectures should be in English only, AfriForum on Monday pledged to protect and support Afrikaans speaking students on campus.
CEO Kallie Kriel said they were "committed to helping the institution find a peaceful solution to the language dispute, participate in the consultation process regarding the university’s language policy, promote mutual recognition and respect among students, and ensure the safety and protect the interests of the Afrikaans students".
AfriForum representatives and had met with rector Professor Cheryl de la Rey, for discussions on Monday following a wave of protests against the university's language policy.
"During the meeting various issues of importance and the immediate continuation of the academic programme at the university were discussed. AfriForum was given the assurance that a final decision regarding Afrikaans as language of instruction has not yet been taken," said Kriel.
He said De la Rey had agreed to organise a meeting between AfriForum and the university’s language task team in order to provide the organisation with an opportunity to give its input on language policy, before the matter was referred to the university council for a final decision.
Campaign to disrupt
Kriel said it was unfortunate that earlier requests by AfriForum Youth to resolve the issue by means of reasonable discussion had not been accepted.
"According to AfriForum, the EFF’s fight against Afrikaans is just a next step in their campaign to disrupt the campus with a view to mobilisation and the creation of publicity for the forthcoming municipal elections," said Kriel.
Earlier, the University of Pretoria issued a statement in which it proposed that lectures be offered in English only.
"To promote multilingualism and student success it is proposed that Afrikaans and Sepedi be used to provide additional support to students.
"Changing the language policy is a statutory process. These proposals have been supported by consensus of the senate and will be considered by the council. Any changes to the language policy also have to be submitted to the Minister of Higher Education and Training," the university said.
Dozens of students were arrested for protesting at the university's Groenkloof and Hatfield campuses last week.
They appeared in court on Monday and their case was postponed to April 7 for further investigation.