[lg policy] South Africa: Blade: We're not gunning for Afrikaans

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 19 15:50:36 UTC 2010


Blade: We're not gunning for Afrikaans

The government had no desire to do away with Afrikaans as a language
of teaching and learning, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande
said on Thursday. "Our position has been consistently clear that all
official languages in South Africa, including Afrikaans should enjoy
parity of esteem as stipulated by the Constitution," Nzimande said in
Stellenbosch at the installation of Stellenbosch University's new
chancellor, businessman Johann Rupert. "Our language policy for higher
education gives recognition to Afrikaans as a language of scholarship
and research, and states very clearly that as such, the language
should be treated as a national asset, and be preserved accordingly."

What the policy objected to was the tendency to use Afrikaans as a
barrier for access by non-speakers of the language. Stellenbosch,
historically the intellectual cradle of the Afrikaner, has for years
been embroiled in debates over its language policy. Describing itself
as "predominantly an Afrikaans institution functioning within a
multilingual world" it currently offers a complex set of options for
teaching in Afrikaans, English and combinations of the two. Nzimande
said Stellenbosch had achieved much in its efforts to be counted among
the great universities in the country, and had made efforts towards

"[However] there is still a challenge which is to translate your
initiatives and achievements into an institutional culture that is
fully inclusive, diverse, and truly South African," he said. He had in
his engagement with the higher education community raised issues such
as "certain institutional cultures" which continued to impede learning
by and success of many students. It was not the role of the government
alone to make sure all students felt welcomed and accommodated in all
aspects of university life. The institutions themselves should take
initiatives to create a culturally and intellectually enriching
experience for all their members, particularly the students.

"It is the responsibility of institutions to promote equity of access
and fair chances of success to all who are seeking to realise their
potential through higher education," he said,
Rupert chairs the Swiss-based luxury-goods company Richemont as well
as South Africa-based VenFin and Remgro. As a young man he enrolled at
Stellenbosch to study economics and company law, but dropped out to
pursue a career in business. In 2004 the university awarded him an
honorary doctorate in economics. - Sapa


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