Maties' change in language policy a 'bold move' - SRC

2015-11-13 18:31
(File: Stellenbosch University)

(File: Stellenbosch University)

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Cape Town - Stellenbosch University’s (SU) “bold move towards a truly transformed and inclusive” institution is a historical step towards opening the doors of education to all, its Student Representative Council (SRC) said on Friday.

“[This is] a stance that [is the] first of many steps in moving SU towards a more inclusive future. We are proud to have stood together with student movements such as Open Stellenbosch, Sasco and Daso to ensure that no student is disadvantaged at this university,” said SRC spokesperson, James de Villiers.

The university earlier announced that all learning at the institution would soon be in English as it is the common language in the country. The rector's management team on the university's language policy also said in a statement that “substantial academic support” would be provided in other South African languages, according to students' needs.

De Villiers said the SRC was “impressed by the announcement” and the university’s “resolve to take transformational steps”. 

“The language policy has been one of the high priority issues of this SRC and we have taken several decisions over the past two months to support our belief in an inclusive SU. 

“In line with the announcement by the rector’s management team, we have already accepted a motion in a SRC meeting to substantiate breakthroughs made by the students collectively, requiring all university residences to communicate primarily in English." 

De Villiers said the SRC commends Open Stellenbosch for the role it played.

A continuous call from students

“Had it not been for the continuous call from students, led by Open Stellenbosch, the necessity of acceleration in transformation would not have been prioritised.”

However, he said the SRC was concerned about the sentiments raised by members of the Convocation about the announcement. 

“It is not a university’s job to protect any language, but rather to ensure the best education for its students. We believe this move by management tries to achieve this. This decision isn’t about the marginalisation of any group, but rather about ensuring that all students are on an equal footing when they arrive at this university.”

Lobby group AfriForum is also livid. Deputy spokesperson, Alana Bailey, said the proposal disregarded almost half of the Western Cape's residents who were Afrikaans speaking.

Branding the proposal ''ideological obligingness, or serious ignorance", Bailey warned students currently studying in Afrikaans that they might not be able to finish their degrees in Afrikaans. 

"According to the census of 2011, Afrikaans is the mother tongue of 49.6% of residents in the Western Cape, against 24.7% isiXhosa mother tongue speakers and only 20.2% English mother tongue speakers," she said in a statement.

"Students who wish to study in English have three unilingual English campuses to choose from in the immediate vicinity. Already discrimination takes place against the 49.6% Afrikaans speakers on the basis of language by only offering them partial access to Afrikaans education at [SU].

"The statement makes it clear the US management cannot even be trusted to maintain the partial presentation, but wants to make an effort to further marginalise Afrikaans and discriminating even more drastically against Afrikaans speaking students [sic].”

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  education

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