Language dispute at agriculture college not resolved - SRC

2015-08-19 14:27


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Cape Town – A dispute over language policy at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in the Western Cape is ongoing, despite claims that "progress" has been made.

While AfriForum Youth said they felt "positive" about the way forward, the college's Student Representative Council (SRC) said they felt that non-white, non-Afrikaans speaking students were still being victimised.

The dispute relates to the language of instruction at the institution.

Classes were disrupted on Thursday and Friday last week by students unhappy with the implementation of the institution's dual English/Afrikaans language policy. SRC chairperson Sabelo Ngcobo said Afrikaans was being prioritised. They wanted classes to be in English only.

The Western Cape agriculture department is looking at the institution’s language policy and has started mediation efforts between students and management.

AfriForum Youth chairperson Henk Maree said discussions had been held yesterday with management.

Positive about way forward

"We really do feel positive about the way forward," he said, adding that the dispute was between English and Afrikaans and not between black and white students. There were black and coloured Afrikaans-speaking students on campus, said Maree.

He said about 70% to 80% of students were Afrikaans speaking, citing statistics he said management had provided.

Maree said the teaching method currently employed was for a lecturer to go through the material, page by page, first in English, then in Afrikaans. He said this was time-consuming and proposed that trained translators be employed. 

But Ngcobo objected to the intervention of "outsiders" like AfriForum in the dispute. 

“If you are not Afrikaans and white, you are made to feel like an outsider,” he said.

Ngcobo said if AfriForum was getting involved, the SRC too would look at getting the help of other structures to back their cause. 

“We will call in any other formations, be it political, be it taxi owners, that sympathise with our cause. We find ourselves facing outsiders. This is not an English-Afrikaans matter.”

Western Cape agriculture department spokesperson, Petro van Rhyn, said in a statement that in the meantime the 50/50 English Afrikaans medium policy would stay in place. 

Read more on:    afriforum  |  cape town  |  language  |  education
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