[lg policy] South Africa: Varsity won't budge on Afrikaans

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 16 13:51:37 UTC 2011

Varsity won't budge on Afrikaans

Sep 15, 2011 | Michael Tlhakudi | 142 comments

THE vice-chancellor of Central University of Technology in
Bloemfontein, Thandwa Mthembu, believes the case filed by AfriForum
protesting the change in the institution's language policy does not
hold water and the students who complained are managing very well with
their studies.

AfriForum Youth filed a formal complaint at the Equality Court in
Bloemfontein on March 31 protesting the language policy.
According to AfriForum, the institution's management had apparently
changed the language policy from Afrikaans to English without prior
arrangement with concerned students.

AfriForum said the move was unfair language discrimination. According
to AfriForum, the students in disagreement with the policy, the bulk
of whom had enrolled for a degree in agricultural management and other
courses, complained they were not consulted in the matter, and that
their decision to enrol at CUT was for the very reason that the
institution offered courses in Afrikaans, as they did not regard their
English proficiency as being "up to standard".

Mthembu said the language policy - which was adopted in 2009 - was not
meant to exclude any students, but to accommodate everyone who
enrolled at the university.

"Yes, individuals in it may practise their own (cultures, customs and
traditions) in their homes, but when they enter the gates of the CUT,
they may as well leave their cultural gear right there, at the gate,"
he said. "We have explained to every student and parent who complained
about the language issue of the consultation process that we follow to
conclude language policy."

He said results of a survey indicated close to 90% of students were
proficient in English and therefore preferred it as the language of
instruction. They could not find any valid reason to change the
language policy because of a few students.

"Out of 12500 students only a few Afrikaans-speaking students
complained about the language policy."

Afriforum Youth spokesman Ernst Roets said the organisation had
discussed with the university a possible strategy that could be used
to offer Afrikaans-speaking students assistance.

He said: "We have written a letter to the university requesting them
to re-visit the matter with the aim of coming to a possible
out-of-court settlement. We are hoping to come to some sort of
agreement for the benefit of the students.

"They haven't done the work in English since they arrived here, this
was violation of their language rights."

But Mthembu said the students were coping in English and there was no
reason to change the policy.


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