Stellenbosch language policy 'in interest of students' rights'

2016-05-12 13:55
(Supplied by Stellenbosch University)

(Supplied by Stellenbosch University)

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Cape Town - Stellenbosch University acted in the interests of all of its students' constitutional right to education by revising its language policy to accommodate students who did not speak Afrikaans, according to a report into the reasons for the change in the policy.

Netwerk24 reported on Thursday that Craig Howie, retired judge president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, had compiled a 24-page report into the language policy.

- See the full report below.

In November 2015, Stellenbosch University announced that all learning at the institution would be in English, as it was the common language in the country. It added that "substantial academic support" would be provided in other South African languages, according to students' needs.

Howie wrote that university management had been "motivated to maintain and preserve the function, reputation and welfare of the university without infringing on any students' constitutional rights".

Had it not taken such "anti-exclusionary decisions and action", the university would have been vulnerable to a constitutional challenge by students not proficient in Afrikaans.

However, the university had in the process opened itself up to legal action by Afrikaans students who wanted to be taught in their home language, Howie observed.

"It is no small irony that, having taken those steps, it felt vulnerable to the court challenges mounted by Afrikaans students but this only serves to highlight the wisdom of having instituted the current review process aimed at amendment of the policy and plan."

AfriForum Youth has opposed the revision of the policy, saying it disregarded almost half of the Western Cape's residents, who were Afrikaans speaking. The application will be heard in the Western Cape High Court on May 19.

- Read more: Hearing over Maties language policy revision set down for May 19

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  education  |  culture

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