English fortifies its foothold in Stellenbosch arts faculty

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed Dec 21 14:32:06 UTC 2005

>>From Business Day (S. Africa),
Wednesday, 21 December 2005

English fortifies its foothold in Stellenbosch arts faculty
Sue Blaine
Education Correspondent

STELLENBOSCH University will expand its dual-language education policy in
the new year. A council decision taken last week means students in the
arts faculty, one of the universitys largest, will be able to choose to be
taught in English or Afrikaans throughout their undergraduate courses,
starting when the university reopens in February. So far they have been
able to learn in English only in their first and second years. The
dual-medium option is employed in parts of other faculties, such as in

Only the arts faculty would change as a result of the decision, said
university spokeswoman Susan van der Merwe. The university will, however,
make a decision on extending the language policy further after seeing how
it works next year. University council chairman Dr Edwin Hertzog said
after the meeting: "We take note of the concerns in various circles about
the future of Afrikaans as a language of tuition and regard it as our
responsibility to take that into consideration.

However, it is also our responsibility to consider other aspects, such as
throughput rates of students, diversity goals and financial realities. The
university council has asked management to recommend practical measures to
promote Afrikaans as a language of science and learning. Academics,
including historian Herman Giliomee, have warned that dual-medium
policies, if unchecked, will lead to Afrikaanss demise at the university
previously solely an Afrikaans-medium institution.

They also argue that Western Cape, where more than half of the citizens
are Afrikaans-speaking, already has two universities for those who want to
learn in English and that Stellenbosch should stay Afrikaans-medium. Prof
Pieter Kapp, head of Stellenbosch Universitys alumni body, which last
month voted against the language policy, said he had no comment until he
had been personally informed of the decision by the university.

University Rector Prof Chris Brink, who introduced the language policy,
was appointed for a second term at Thursdays meeting.


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