Afrikaans 2017

Civis Mundi Digitaal #46

Dear Friends

During a turbulent political time in South Africa, language rights are also still deteriorating.

Following your interest in the South African Monitor event of November 2016 on language displacement, we are sending you this information regarding the current state of Afrikaans tertiary education in South Africa.

Two excellent articles were recently published in this regard:

At present the situation at the universities where Afrikaans had still been one of the primary mediums of instruction in 2016, is as follows:

University of the Free State:

Abolishes Afrikaans as primary language of education in March 2016, to be implemented for first-year students in the Faculties of Law, Medicine and Economics as of 2017. AfriForum (a civil rights organisation) and Solidarity (a union) wins a court case re the merit of the new language policy against the management of the university – the South African High Court finds the new policy to be unconstitutional. The management appeals against this ruling. The appeal hearing takes place on 17 February 2017 and the court rules against the High Court ruling, in favour of the university’s management. AfriForum and Solidarity will now apply for leave to appeal against this judgment to the Constitutional Court.

University of Pretoria:

Abolishes Afrikaans as primary language of instruction in June 2016 – implementation will however not take place in 2017, due to technical reasons. AfriForum and Solidarity loses a High Court case against the merit of the new policy against the university’s management. The two organisations apply for leave to appeal. A decision in this regards is pending.

University of South Africa:

Abolishes Afrikaans as primary language of instruction in April 2016, to be implemented in 2017 for all first-year students. A court date for a case of AfriForum against the management of the university re the merit of the new policy is pending.

University of Stellenbosch:

In June 2016 a language policy is adopted which curtails the position of Afrikaans as of 2017 dramatically, with an undertaking without any guarantees that students will under certain circumstances still have access to Afrikaans instruction. The organisation Gelyke Kanse  (Equal Opportunities in English) initiated legal action against this policy. The case will probably be heard in August 2017.

North-West University:

At the Potchefstroom campus of the university Afrikaans still is a primary language of education, however a new university statute introduced in April 2017, makes provision for an increasing percentage of parallel medium instruction – a decision which had been the first step towards monolingual English education at all of the above universities.

Out of 26 public universities in South Africa, there no longer is any institution which may be regarded as being an Afrikaans university, even though there is a huge demand for Afrikaans tertiary instruction.  Private institutions such as Akademia of Solidarity are evolving at an increasing pace to meet this demand for mother-language education.  The development of curricula and infrastructure however require vast amounts of resources and time, with the result that there are serious concerns re the future of Afrikaans as tertiary medium of instruction, as well as regarding the development of any other indigenous South African language to high function level.

You are welcome to address any questions re this issue to South African Monitor.