Pretoria University 'can't redress the past if language policy stays'

2016-12-02 18:26
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Pretoria - The University of Pretoria (UP) won't be able to redress the past if the institution is expected to retain its current language policy.

That was one of the arguments put forward in the High Court in Pretoria by Advocate Gilbert Marcus, for the university, Netwerk24 reported.

"Our shared values underpinning the Constitution can't be achieved when one group almost always wants its demands met," he said.

Rights organisation AfriForum and trade union Solidarity want UP's new language policy set aside.

In terms of the new policy, approved on June 22, English will, as of next year, become the primary language of instruction. Students who started their courses in Afrikaans will, however, be allowed to finish them in that language. 

Afrikaans will still be used in the faculties of education and theology. 

Afrikaans and North Sotho will be supported as academic languages, with students allowed to discuss study material in study groups in these languages. 

'Oppression of Afrikaners'

Marcus said the university wasn't targeting Afrikaans students or the language.

About 18% of the students had indicated that they preferred Afrikaans as the academic language. Marcus said they had an advantage because the classes were smaller.  

Advocate Gretha Engebrecht, for AfriForum and Solidarity, said if the university was going to redress the past, it should include the oppression of Afrikaners. 

"Our history also includes, and I'm not saying for a moment it was to the same extent, oppression of Afrikaners by the English."

Advocate Johan du Toit, also for AfriForum and Solidarity, said the language policy was unconstitutional. He said it was possible to offer tuition in both English and Afrikaans without it costing the university more money.  

"Everyone wanting to study in English can do so."

Du Toit said if English was the only language at UP, it would affect promoting other languages.

Judgment was reserved.

Read more on:    university of pretoria  |  pretoria  |  language  |  education

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