ConCourt ruling ‘will make other mother-tongues obsolete’

ConCourt ruling ‘will make other mother-tongues obsolete’

Lobby group Gelyke Kanse believes the Constitutional Court's ruling in favour of the University of Stellenbosch’s language policy will hinder mother-tongue education.

ConCourt: University of Stellenbosch language policy ‘should remain in place’
Sinethemba Madolo

The highest court in the land has upheld a decision by the university to implement a policy that makes English its main language.


Justice Johan Froneman read the unanimous judgement on Thursday.


Gelyke Kanse had initially approached the Western Cape High Court to set the policy aside and reinstate the 2014 policy which the high court found was "not equitable as it denied black students not conversant in Afrikaans full access to the university".


While the former Afrikaans university says the policy is meant to ensure equal access, multilingualism and integration Gelyke Kanse believes it is unconstitutional and unfair to Afrikaans speaking students.

ALSO READ: ConCourt: University of Stellenbosch language policy ‘should remain in place’

In handing down the ruling, Froneman said the 2016 decision by the university was constitutionally justified and was "thorough, exhaustive, inclusive and properly deliberative".


Froneman said while most first years entering university could be taught in English, it’s only a minority who is able to receive education in Afrikaans.


The group's lawyer Danie Rossouw says other languages in the country are not being developed and the lack of implementation will see them becoming obsolete.


"This is not good news for Afrikaans (speaking students) but it also not good news - in my view - for other languages. If you look at your Xhosa's, Zulu's - those languages are not being developed. Academically in tertiary everything is English.


"Unless universities realise they have to start developing other languages not only Afrikaans otherwise we're going to sit with English public tertiaries.”

Meanwhile, the university's spokesperson Martin Viljoen says the judgment confirms the goal of the new language policy.


Viljoen says the university is not trying to eliminate Afrikaans but that English is being used as the main language in order to prevent exclusion.



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