[lg policy] South Africa: Language war hots up at universities

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 28 11:23:25 EDT 2016

Language war hots up at universities
SIPHO MABENA and SHENAAZ JAMAL | 28 July, 2016 06:44

*Image by:* Gallo Images/iStockphoto
The fight to keep Afrikaans as a language of instruction at universities is
hotting up, with the Higher Education Network vowing to join court cases
over the issue as friends of the court.

AfriForum approached the Pretoria High Court yesterday to stop Unisa from
changing its language policy.

Despite losing the urgent application, the Afrikaans interest group will
continue to fight the distance-learning university's plan to become an
English-only institution.

Judge Nomsa Khumalo struck the urgent application off the roll yesterday,
saying AfriForum had failed to make a case for urgency.

Though disappointed by the judgment, AfriForum's Werner Human said the
outcome spurred them to expedite their review application.

"We are going to exercise all processes, including approaching the judge
president, to have the review application heard expeditiously as part of
our accelerated plan," he said.

But Higher Education and Transformation Network spokesman Hendrick Makaneta
said AfriForum's case against Unisa and an earlier one involving the
University of the Free State must be challenged vigorously, because
AfriForum was using the courts in an attempt to co-govern the university.

"This is going to have a bearing on other universities trying to transform
and change the medium of instruction to make the universities inclusive,"
he said.

"We are not saying we want to kill the Afrikaans language, but other
languages also should be given a fair opportunity to develop and thrive in
academia," said Makaneta.

AfriForum obtained a high court order setting aside the University of the
Free State's decision to abolish Afrikaans as a medium of instruction on
all levels.

The university will appeal the decision.

"This is a matter that will set back universities in terms of
transformation in higher education.

"We are speaking to the University of the Free State and will be applying
as friends of the court in this matter," said Makaneta.


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