Afrikaners have advantage at universities – EFF student group

Pretoria  The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) says students being taught in Afrikaans at universities are at an advantage compared to black students.

“Afrikaans must be on the same level as all these other indigenous languages because we have a situation where Afrikaners are at an advantaged position at universities,” said EFFSC president, Mpho Morolane.

“We are saying that post democracy in this country, you had two languages which were privileged in terms of education and that is English and Afrikaans. There are 11 official languages which are recognised by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”

Morolane was speaking after language protests hit several campuses countrywide, with some students calling for the removal of Afrikaans as a medium of teaching and learning. 

“For example at the University of Pretoria, you will have a lecturer lecturing an Afrikaans and English class. When he goes to the Afrikaans class, the notes will be different as compared to when he goes to an English class. Content and method will also be different,” he said.

Language policy, low output

Morolane added that the language policies currently being used at universities contributed to the low output of black students. He said things would be different if people were taught in their languages.

“If you can check globally, countries which use their mother tongues as languages of teaching, learning, research and science, are ahead in terms of innovation, research and graduation outputs. Case in point, countries such as Korea, Japan and many others and it is because language is very critical and it is about the culture of the people,” he said.

“We are only seeing now Afrikaners who are ahead in terms of research output and we are saying it can’t happen anymore. These people are not ahead because they are more intelligent than black people but it is because they are using their language, Afrikaans,” he added.

Morolane called on stakeholders to invest in African languages at tertiary institutions to level the playing field. He said Afrikaans should be on the same level as the other indigenous languages.

Incorporate other languages

“What we are saying is that we want to see investments being made in African indigenous languages. While that is being made, we want Afrikaans to be on par with African indigenous languages,” said Morolane.

He maintained that their intention was not to do away with the language but find ways to incorporate other languages. He said they would be taking their protests to other institutions in the country that still use Afrikaans as a medium of teaching and learning.

“We don’t want to take away Afrikaans. We recognise it as an African language but however we want to see social justice prevailing in all institutions of higher learning.

"We will be applying multiple strategies and we are saying in the process, let there be engagements. We should not see the behaviour of AfriForum which refuses to listen to what the EFF Student Command is saying," he said.

"Let us engage, let us agree where we do and disagree as well but we are saying we are yet to be convinced why we shouldn’t pursue this matter politically and otherwise."

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