[lg policy] South Africa: Maties' change in language policy a 'bold move' - SRC
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Sat Nov 14 16:49:29 UTC 2015
Maties' change in language policy a 'bold move' - SRC 2015-11-13 18:31
Tammy Petersen and Jenni Evans, News24
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(File: Stellenbosch University)
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- English to be main language of instruction at Stellenbosch University
- Nobel Prize winner, judges among Maties honorary degree recipients
- Students must take step back or risk political divisions - analysts
Cape Town - Stellenbosch University’s (SU) “bold move towards a truly
transformed and inclusive” institution is a historical step towards opening
the doors of education to all, its Student Representative Council (SRC)
said on Friday.
“[This is] a stance that [is the] first of many steps in moving SU towards
a more inclusive future. We are proud to have stood together with student
movements such as Open Stellenbosch, Sasco and Daso to ensure that no
student is disadvantaged at this university,” said SRC spokesperson, James
The university earlier announced that all learning at the institution would
soon be in English as it is the common language in the country. The
rector's management team on the university's language policy also said in a
statement that “substantial academic support” would be provided in other
South African languages, according to students' needs.
De Villiers said the SRC was “impressed by the announcement” and the
university’s “resolve to take transformational steps”.
“The language policy has been one of the high priority issues of this SRC
and we have taken several decisions over the past two months to support our
belief in an inclusive SU.
“In line with the announcement by the rector’s management team, we have
already accepted a motion in a SRC meeting to substantiate breakthroughs
made by the students collectively, requiring all university residences to
communicate primarily in English."
De Villiers said the SRC commends Open Stellenbosch for the role it played.
*A continuous call from students*
“Had it not been for the continuous call from students, led by Open
Stellenbosch, the necessity of acceleration in transformation would not
have been prioritised.”
However, he said the SRC was concerned about the sentiments raised by
members of the Convocation about the announcement.
“It is not a university’s job to protect any language, but rather to ensure
the best education for its students. We believe this move by management
tries to achieve this. This decision isn’t about the marginalisation of any
group, but rather about ensuring that all students are on an equal footing
when they arrive at this university.”
Lobby group AfriForum is also livid. Deputy spokesperson, Alana Bailey,
said the proposal disregarded almost half of the Western Cape's residents
who were Afrikaans speaking.
Branding the proposal ''ideological obligingness, or serious ignorance",
Bailey warned students currently studying in Afrikaans that they might not
be able to finish their degrees in Afrikaans.
"According to the census of 2011, Afrikaans is the mother tongue of 49.6%
of residents in the Western Cape, against 24.7% isiXhosa mother tongue
speakers and only 20.2% English mother tongue speakers," she said in a
"Students who wish to study in English have three unilingual English
campuses to choose from in the immediate vicinity. Already discrimination
takes place against the 49.6% Afrikaans speakers on the basis of language
by only offering them partial access to Afrikaans education at [SU].
"The statement makes it clear the US management cannot even be trusted to
maintain the partial presentation, but wants to make an effort to further
marginalise Afrikaans and discriminating even more drastically against
Afrikaans speaking students [sic].”
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