Judgement reserved in AfriForum UP language policy appeal

HENRI UYS

On 10 March, the North Gauteng High Court reserved judgement in AfriForum’s appeal to the ruling made in December 2016 to set aside UP’s decision to phase out Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in 2017.

The case can only be heard once the Supreme Court of Appeal has heard a similar case between the University of the Free State and AfriForum, brought to court in collaboration with Solidarity. This case deals with the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction at the University of the Free State and started on 17 March.

AfriForum welcomed the ruling and in a statement said, “Even though the cases of the two universities display differences, both are about the wider principles of vindicating language rights, the right to mother tongue education, as well as stipulations of the Constitution and other South African legislation in this regard.”

Renier Goosen, branch chairperson of AfriForum Jeug at UP, said that “studies show that students understand concepts better if it is taught to them in their mother language”. The court heard in December that only 8% of the University’s population speaks Afrikaans. When asked about this, Goosen said, “The statistic is very vague in the sense that it does not differentiate between faculties, courses and more specific modules. I realise that to have an Afrikaans class where there is no interest does not make sense. However, there are many courses that [contain] a lot of Afrikaans students. These courses should be presented in Afrikaans.” Goosen added that “AfriForum supports the development of all native languages in South Africa and would like to see that their rights are protected and expanded.”

“AfriForum and Solidarity will take any necessary steps with regards to the protection of Afrikaans students’ right to study in their mother language”, the statement from AfriForum concluded.

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