Stellenbosch University senate rejects languages test

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Jun 8 13:22:52 UTC 2006

Stellenbosch University senate rejects languages test

By Sivuyile Mangxamba

The Stellenbosch University senate has voted against a proposal that
students write a compulsory language proficiency test in Afrikaans and
English. The language proposals, compiled by the convocation of the
university, also wanted lecturers to do courses in Afrikaans and English
to improve their knowledge of the two languages. In a statement,
university spokeswoman Susan van der Merwe said the convocation's
proposals wanted the new proposals to be "a credit-bearing component of
their degree courses".

"All students in all faculties should write a compulsory language
proficiency test in Afrikaans and English or should do compulsory language
proficiency courses in Afrikaans and English," the convocation proposed.
"Lecturers who do not have sufficient knowledge of Afrikaans or English
should be compelled to do courses that will raise them to a standard at
which they are able to deal with both languages equally in their
teaching." At an ordinary senate meeting last Friday, 115 members voted
against the proposals while others abstained. Only eight university senate
members voted for the proposals.

Stellenbosch University reviews its language policy every three years and
has been involved in an ongoing debate on how to accommodate English. Some
fear this will lead to the slow demise of Afrikaans at the university,
which regards itself as an institution "promoting Afrikaans as a language
of teaching and science in a multi-lingual context". A final decision on
the new language policy was expected to be ratified in a senate meeting
later this year. In this latest round, it had been asked to express an
opinion and thereby confirm the direction in which the university should
move forward, said university rector Professor Chris Brink.

He said senate members supported the standpoint that Maties would promote
Afrikaans without forcing it on others, and without isolating it as an
Afrikaans enclave. "We would like Stellenbosch to remain the university of
first choice for Afrikaans-speaking students who would like a
multi-cultural experience," said Brink.

sivuyilem at

 Published on the web by Cape Argus on June 7, 2006.
 Cape Argus 2006. All rights reserved.

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