[lg policy] South Africa: Stellenbosch report opens up to English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Sep 22 15:05:00 UTC 2015

Stellenbosch report opens up to English
[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 language policy after the
release of a documentary, Luister (Listen), in Stellenbosch. Picture: AFP
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STELLENBOSCH University’s language task team has recommended that Afrikaans
and English should have equal status as mediums of teaching at the

Student pressure group Open Stellenbosch has been agitating for the
language policy to be tweaked, arguing that it is biased towards Afrikaans,
thereby disadvantaging black students.

Earlier this year, a language task team was established to make specific
recommendations on language policy as well as the implementation of a
language plan.

On Monday, the task team released its report to the student representative
council (SRC).

The university said options pertaining to the acceleration of
parallel-medium teaching would be investigated urgently, and priority given
to the conversion of modules with high enrolments to parallel-medium
teaching next year. The student feedback process on the language plan would
be revised to ensure a rapid response.

The university has said it wants to provide 75% of its modules in English
and Afrikaans in the coming years. Postgraduate classes are already in

The current language policy, which critics say is vague, states that
"Afrikaans and English are applied in various usage configurations", while
"parallel-medium teaching and real-time educational interpretation are used
as preferred options where practically feasible and affordable".

Some black students and Open Stellenbosch have argued that this policy
essentially neglects those who cannot understand Afrikaans since the
interpretation service is often of poor quality and things are easily lost
in translation.

Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, vice-rector for learning and teaching, said on
Monday longer-term strategies should be formulated in partnership with
faculties to increase the multilingual offering above 75% in English and
above 75% in Afrikaans much earlier than 2020. "It is simply not possible
to change to fully fledged parallel-medium teaching in the remaining months
of this year to allow for all classes to be taught in English and Afrikaans
from January 2016. Part of the process is a consideration of the physical
infrastructure requirements and timetable changes."

Comment from the SRC and Open Stellenbosch was not available on Monday


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