AfriForum Fights UFS Language Policy, Says It Undermines Language Rights Of Afrikaans Speaking Students


In reaction against the said plans by the management of the University of Free State to introduce its language policy which enforces English language as the institution’s language of instruction, Afriforum revealed that it will approach the Bloemfontein High Court for a court interdict.

The University council had earlier last week approved the language policy which is set to be implemented in 2017. The UFS council was given the mandate last year to review its language policy and, after a unanimous vote, it was decided that English would be the primary medium of instruction of undergraduate and postgraduate students at its Bloemfontein, QwaQwa and South campuses

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But AfriForum said such decision undermined “the language rights of Afrikaans speaking students who want to be tutored in Afrikaans”.

According to AfriForum spokesman Alana Bailey, the organisation did not agree with the university’s language policy as, given its demographics, it excluded Afrikaans- and Sesotho-speaking students.

“We are very concerned about the decision. We feel that not only does it undermine the language rights of Afrikaans speaking students who want to be tutored in Afrikaans, but it is also a problem because Sesotho as a main language of the people of the Free State is still a developing language.

The organization believed that the Bloemfontein campus students still prefer Afrikaans, given the area’s demographics. It therefore expected that at least one of the three campuses should offer Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. There needs to be promotion of Afrikaans and Sesotho,” said Bailey.

“And if we see that a highly functional language as Afrikaans is being sidelined we also wonder whether indeed there will be further efforts to improve the (standard) of Sesotho,” Bailey, was quoted as saying by eNCA.

AfriForum is not alone in the fight against the new language policy undertaken by the UFS. Trade union Solidarity was reported to be opposing the policy claiming that the policy was already taking form and serves to disadvantage students who want to continue their studies in Afrikaans.

The group said that the policy had forced students who had enrolled in Afrikaans to take their classes in English. The group added that the UFS’ decision was discriminatory in nature because there is a contract in place between that student and the university that they will be able to do those classes in Afrikaans.

They therefore urged Afrikaans-speaking parents and students to implement a pay strike at the University of the Free State.

Meanwhile, the University spokesperson earlier stated that the University management decision would not be applied in some professional programmes like those studying to teach Afrikaans and theological students who wished to minister at traditional Afrikaans-speaking churches.

“This arrangement must not undermine the values of inclusivity and diversity endorsed by the UFS,” she reportedly said

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