[lg policy] Stellenbosch academics feel the strain of dual language decision

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Mar 17 16:01:33 UTC 2016


Stellenbosch academics feel the strain of dual language decision
by Bekezela Phakathi
<http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/staffprofiles/2012/08/02/bekezela-phakathi-profile>,
17 March 2016, 06:48

[image: Stellenbosch University. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES]
Stellenbosch University. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

STELLENBOSCH University says its push to give English and Afrikaans equal
status has added pressure on its academic staff, as extra teaching will be
required to maintain the Afrikaans offering.

On Wednesday, university management also said preliminary figures showed a
decline in the number of black students who had registered at the
institution this year.

Late last year, the Stellenbosch University council, which has oversight
responsibilities of academic and operational issues, decided to give
English and Afrikaans equal status, despite support from the rector’s
management team for the adoption of English as the primary language of
communication and administration from this year.

This year, the registration rate for first-year black students dropped 7%
compared to last year, the Coloured group declined 3%, while the
registration rate for Indian newcomers increased 1%, according to
Christelle Feyt, the senior director of prospective students.

She cited campus unrest, the Luister documentary, which captured some
students’ and a staff members’ accounts of racism at the institution, and
negative media coverage as some of the possible reasons fewer black
students had enrolled this year.

This emerged on Wednesday, when members of Parliament’s higher education
and training portfolio committee visited the university to be briefed on
governance, transformation, enrolment for this year and the institution’s
language plan.

PW van der Walt, the deputy chairman of Stellenbosch University council,
told MPs the previous language policy had shortcomings in accommodating
students who did not have a working knowledge of Afrikaans.

"Our academics have worked hard to remedy these in the interim, while the
language policy is being revised. While enthusiastically pursuing the goal
of greater language inclusivity, they unfortunately moved outside the
confines of the current policy," he said.

This had resulted in a court challenge by Afriforum Youth.

"We now have to realign our offerings with the current year book, but we
can’t move back to a less accommodating position. It will require
additional teaching to maintain the Afrikaans offering. This will place a
heavy additional load on our academics."

Meanwhile, Ms Feyt told MPs the university was aiming to increase the
number of black, Coloured and Indian students in the next five years to
more than 15,000. According to the 2016 preliminary figures, out of 30,000
students, 62% are white, 18% coloured, 17% black and 3% Indian.

Committee chairwoman Yvonne Phosa expressed satisfaction with the
university’s transformation plans. "The challenge now is the actual
implementation of the plan," she said.

Stellenbosch University is just one of a number of traditionally Afrikaans
universities grappling with transformation. Following weeks of student
unrest, the council of the University of the Free State said last week
English would be the primary medium of instruction at undergraduate and
postgraduate level on its campuses in Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa.

http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/education/2016/03/17/stellenbosch-academics-feel-the-strain-of-dual-language-decision


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