[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] South Africa: Nzimande says no to existence of any Afrikaans university - Anton Alberts

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Nov 28 22:26:46 UTC 2014

Nzimande says no to existence of any Afrikaans university - Anton Alberts
Anton Alberts
 26 November 2014

 FF Plus says minister propagating the ANC mantra that the majority governs
and the minority has no rights

*Blade Nzimande's higher education policy will lead to the eradication of
Afrikaans on tertiary level*

No place in South Africa for a single Afrikaans university. This is one of
the worrisome replies that Blade Nzimande, minister of higher education,
has given in a reply to a question in parliament posed by the FF Plus from
which it is now clear that Afrikaans' days are numbered as a tertiary
language of instruction at public institutions, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF
Plus parliamentary spokesperson on higher education says.

In a reply to a question of Adv. Alberts as to how Nzimande will be
preventing that the Northwest University at Potchefstroom will not be
totally anglicised as was the case with RAU (now the University of
Johannesburg), the response was merely that Afrikaans could be used
together with another language such as English to give non-Afrikaans
speakers access to the university.

Nzimande mentions as example Stellenbosch which now accommodates both
English and Afrikaans.

Adv. Alberts says Nzimande's argument in this regard is interspersed with
mistakes and avoids the question as it is known that where a university
gives instruction in both English and Afrikaans, English eventually becomes
the default language due to the demographic change which occurs at these
institutions, as was the case at the RAU.

"The minister is now clearly dropping the charade about the future of
Afrikaans. He openly propagates the ANC mantra that the majority governs
and that minorities have no rights. He conveniently forgets that
Stellenbosch had only chosen the double-medium option last week. I will
wager my parliamentary salary that this university will no longer be
predominantly Afrikaans within five years.

"The minister in addition shows his absolute ignorance with regards to
South Africa's obligations toward minorities as outlined in Section 27 of
the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights according to
which minorities' rights to be taught in their own language at their own
institution have to be supported by the state.

"The ANC's obsession with transformation which merely means that black
domination through English - actually a colonial language - is busy
undermining minority's rights and that the time has come for minorities to
stand up and make a place for themselves in this transformation forest in
which we were left in 1994.

"The FF Plus therefore fully supports Solidarity's changing of Academia
into a community university.

"The FF Plus will in the interim continue to exhaust all internal remedies
regarding the acquisition of minority rights and if we cannot succeed in
the South African system, we will increasingly be approaching international
bodies regarding the ANC's constant breaching of their obligations in this
regard," Adv. Alberts says.

*Text of the parliamentary reply:*






*Adv A de W Alberts (FF Plus) to ask the Minister of Higher Education and

1) How will he discharge his constitutional obligation of promoting mother
tongue education at each university ;

2) how is he going to guarantee that Afrikaans as medium of instruction
will not decline if the Potchefstroom campus of the University of North
West is transformed by enrolling more English-speaking students, as has
happened with the transformation of the former Rand Afrikaans University
into the University of Johannesburg;

3) whether he is seeing to it that his obligations are discharged in
respect of minorities and their right to be educated in their mother
tongue, as contained in section 27 of the International Agreement on
Citizen and Political Rights, to which South Africa is legally bound;

4) whether he is planning to (a) keep at least one Afrikaans university or
(b) alternatively create such a university; if not, why not; if so, what
are the relevant details?



1) The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa declares "the official
languages of the Republic are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati,
Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu".
The Constitution also states that "the state must take practical and
positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of these [the
indigenous] languages" and that all official languages must enjoy parity of
esteem and be treated equitably", (Section 6 (1), (2) and (4) of the
Founding Provisions). The Constitution enjoins the Pan South African
Language Board to promote and create conditions for the development and use
of these and other languages. This fact is stated so that there is a clear
understanding of the obligations for the Minister of Higher Education and

With regard to the provision of languages at institutions of higher
learning, Section 29 (2) of the Constitution states that:

"everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or
languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that
education is reasonably practicable. In order to ensure the effective
access to, and implementation of this right, the state must consider all
reasonable educational alternatives, including single medium institutions,
taking into account -

a) Equity;

b) Practicability; and

c) The need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws and

All of this informs the work of the Department of Higher Education and
Training. It should be noted that nowhere in the Constitution is reference
made to the ‘promotion of mother tongue education', nevertheless, this is
understood to mean the promotion of all official languages especially
indigenous languages that were underdeveloped under the past racially
discriminatory laws and practices. In this regard, the *Language Policy for
Higher Education* published in November 2002 is the framework that guides
these practices at higher education institutions.

In addition to this policy, there are other mechanisms through which the
Department steers institutions towards the development of African
languages, such as the allocation of infrastructure and efficiency funds to
support the development of facilities for teaching African languages.

In the 2012/13 to 2014/15 infrastructure cycle, R311.654 million was
allocated to the category of African Languages, Humanities and Social
Sciences. Within this category, approximately R120 million was allocated to
various universities for infrastructure projects related to the development
of African Languages. In addition, the *Minimum Requirements for Teacher
Education Qualifications *policy published in the Government Gazette Number
34467 of 15 July 2011 requires all new teachers to be at least
conversationally proficient in an African language.

Currently, there are twenty-one (21) universities offering initial teacher
education that are developing the capability of teachers in African
languages and contributing towards the revitalisation of African Languages
departments at universities, as well as the teaching of African languages
in schools.

My Ministry is mindful of the fact that effective and sustainable teaching
of African Languages at universities is dependent on the competency in
these languages being developed at the level of schooling, and therefore
that all languages should form an integral part of the basic education
curriculum. The Department is working in close collaboration with the
Department of Basic Education to ensure that there is synergy on this
important matter, especially concerning the training of teachers.

2) The Department's role is to implement policies that seek to steer the
sector towards transformation and therefore redress the imbalances created
by the apartheid system. In line with the Higher Education Act, a
university's language policy is and remains the responsibility of the
University Council and not of the Minister of Higher Education and Training.

University leadership must be mindful that universities in South Africa are
national assets that have to be accessible to every South African
irrespective of their ethnicity, creed or mother tongue. The Department
fully supports Afrikaans as a medium of tuition, however it could be used
in addition to another language like English so that access is not denied
to non-speakers of Afrikaans.

For example, institutions like University of Stellenbosch have
progressively introduced English as an additional medium of tuition without
compromising Afrikaans as medium of academic expression.

3) The Department holds the view that the development of African languages
is tied to social justice, which is an indispensable element of nation
building and the promotion of social cohesion in our country. Therefore,
the development of all official languages is a necessity for human rights
and dignity, access and success at post-school education institutions,
preservation of our heritage, communication and culture.

I am duty-bound to develop all our languages especially the African
indigenous languages given their history of marginalisation. The status quo
makes it practically impossible for all South African citizens to be
educated in their mother tongue due to the under-development of all
indigenous languages. Indigenous languages have not attained a level where
the vocabulary is advanced enough to be used as a medium of tuition.

It would not be feasible now for the Department to insist that every
citizen be taught in their mother tongue. This will be possible once the
Pan South African Language Board has created conditions for the development
and use of these languages in education.

In the meantime, the Department is encouraging higher education
institutions to develop and expand the current vocabulary of indigenous
languages to high academic standards for delivery of teaching and learning.
Once developed, the implementation of these languages as mediums of tuition
would have to commence with the basic education system, from the lowest
grade, building up to grade 12 and eventually to post-school education and
training system. This task will require dedication, skilled personnel, time
and substantial financial resources.

4)    In responding to this question, the honourable Advocate Alberts is
pointed to the following paragraph 15.4. of the Higher Education *Language
Policy for Higher Education*, which deserves citing in its entirety:

"The Ministry acknowledges that Afrikaans as a language of scholarship and
science is a national resource. Therefore, it fully supports the retention
of Afrikaans as a medium of academic expression and communication in higher
education and is committed to ensuring that the capacity of Afrikaans to
function as such a medium is not eroded. In this regard, the Ministry
endorses the views of the then President, Mr Nelson Mandela, as expressed
in his speech to the University of Stellenbosch in 1996, on the occasion of
the acceptance of an honorary doctorate that:

"The real issue is not the extermination or preservation of Afrikaans as an
academic medium. Rather, the question is this: Amongst ourselves, how are
we to negotiate a dispensation for the South African university system that
meets the following three criteria? Firstly, that a milieu should be
created and maintained for Afrikaans to continue growing as a language of
scholarship and science.

At the same time, non-speakers of Afrikaans should not be unjustly deprived
of access within the system. And moreover, that the use and development of
no single language medium should - either intentionally or unintentionally
- be made the basis for the furtherance of racial, ethnic or narrowly
cultural separation". 25 October 1996"

I share the conviction expressed in the *Language Policy for Higher
Education* that the sustainability of Afrikaans in higher education does
not necessarily require the designation of a university as a ‘custodian' of
the academic use of the Afrikaans language. Therefore, I neither plan to
designate one of the existing universities as an ‘Afrikaans language
institution', nor intend to create a university for any other specific
language as that would be unconstitutional as explained above.

*Statement issued by Adv. Anton Alberts, FF Plus parliamentary
spokesperson: Higher Education, November 26 2014*


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