[lg policy] AfriForum loses Unisa ‘taal’ battle

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Apr 28 10:23:18 EDT 2018


AfriForum loses Unisa ‘taal’ battle
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Ilse de Lange
[image: The University of South Africa (Unisa).]

The University of South Africa (Unisa).
An application by the rights group to set aside Unisa’s revised language
policy, with English as the sole language of tuition, was dismissed this
week.

A high court judge in Pretoria has hammered the final nail in the coffin of
Afrikaans as a language of tuition at the University of South Africa.

Judge Raylene Keightley this week dismissed an application by rights group
AfriForum to set aside Unisa’s revised language policy, with English as the
sole language of tuition from the start of last year.

AfriForum had asked the court to set aside Unisa’s 2016 decision, arguing
that the policy was unfair as there had been no public consultation, and
that it violated the constitutional guarantee of a qualified right to
choose a language of tuition at a public education institution.

Unisa stated that there was a declining demand for Afrikaans and that they
couldn’t tailor their resource distribution to meet the demands of only
5.1% of its Afrikaans students when weighed up against the demand of
hundreds of thousand of students for English tuition.

Keightley referred at length to judgments by the Supreme Court of Appeal
and the Constitutional Court, which both dismissed AfriForum’s attempt to
have the University of the Free State’s English-only policy set aside.

The judge said it was clear that the right to be taught in a language of
choice depended not only on the question of if existing resources made it
technically practicable or possible, and that the right could be curtailed
by the broader societal and constitutional considerations of equity and the
need to redress past discrimination.

She said: “Universities play an important role as thought-leaders in
society. Therefore, in my view it is acceptable and proper … for a
university to consider how its policies reflect its role in the broader SA
[and international] society.”

She said Afrikaans enjoyed a privileged status at Unisa in circumstances
where a relatively small number of students were demanding tuition in
Afrikaans, and a growing call for resources to develop the academic status
of other African languages.

“It seems the removal of Afrikaans was justified on the basis of
considerations of equality, practicability and the need to redress past
racially discriminatory laws.”

– *news at citizen.co.za <news at citizen.co.za>*

*Also read:  **School language battle in court over Afrikaans-only high
school*
<https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/1776830/school-language-battle-in-court-over-afrikaans-only-high-school/>

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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