[lg policy] South Africa: LETTER: Not a language issue

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Sep 11 15:19:18 UTC 2015

LETTER: Not a language issue
September 11 2015, 05:00

[image: Students hold placards at a protest against alleged racism on
campus brought to light by a documentary, Luister (Listen), in Stellenbosch
on Tuesday. Picture: AFP PHOTO/RODGER BOSCH]
Students hold placards at a protest against alleged racism on campus
brought to light by a documentary, Luister (Listen), in Stellenbosch on
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GITA DU TOIT writes eloquently in her argument for the end to Afrikaans as
the prevailing academic language at Stellenbosch University (Maties
language policy excludes blacks
September 7).

Let me present another narrative as the proud father of a son and
daughter-in-law who attended Stellenbosch University without the benefit of
even the most basic knowledge of the Afrikaans language. My son was
educated in the UK and US. His wife is an Israeli immigrant with English
very much her second language.

I encouraged my son to attend Stellenbosch to experience the Afrikaner
culture. Despite their lack of Afrikaans, both gained good degrees and
invested in postgraduate studies. My son earned his master’s, writing his
thesis entirely in English.

Finally, it is what both have done with their Stellenbosch education that
offers our country hope. My son has forgone the allure of advertising or
account management roles, to dedicate himself to living in rural Africa
building an education platform for those who lack the opportunity to gain a
first-world education in any language, never mind English. After completing
her medical degree, my daughter-in-law provides HIV management and medical
care to these same rural communities.

Ms du Toit is incorrect. You are not excluded from Stellenbosch University
if you cannot speak Afrikaans. The town has sidewalk cafes not because it
is white, but because it is not blessed with highways running through it.
Afrikaans is not a language issue to be diluted to white or black.

Rather than limiting her thoughts to merits of language, Ms du Toit should
expand her horizons and consider what contribution the university makes to
our whole country, and what role she might choose to play in the upliftment
of the most disadvantaged communities in the region.


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