Court Affirms English Language As UP’s Official Language

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Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ordered the University of Pretoria to phase out Afrikaans as a medium of tuition as of 2017.

The case, which was heard on Thursday 15 December, had the high court dismissing Afriforum’s application for an order to set aside the new University of Pretoria all-English language policy as “a positive step towards multilingualism”.

The three judges presiding over the case turned down an application by lobby group AfriForum for an order to set aside the new all-English language policy adopted in June by Tuks. They declared English the only official medium of instruction at the University.

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The ruling dashed the hopes of Afrikaans students who hoped to study in the language of their choice next year. AfriForum, AfriForum Youth and Solidarity described the ruling as a strong blow to “South African language rights”.

“The case not only applies to the continuation of the rights of Afrikaans students‚ but to the protection and promotion of the principles of mother-tongue education and multilingualism versus monolingual English education‚ which is increasingly being adopted and enforced by institutions. This at the cost of approximately 90% of South Africans whose mother tongue is not English‚” the three groups said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the University Management together with the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Thursday, welcomed the ruling, saying this will further help to deepened transformation.



“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the new language policy is implemented with the least possible disruption and in the interest of all students and other members of the University,” UP management stated.

Similarly, the Sanco National Spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said the “adoption of progressive language policies by universities that were enclaves of Afrikaner nationalism has deepened transformation.”

He also claimed the AfriForum opposed Tuks’ policy change for no reason other than the preservation of “pigmentocracy” and domination of the Afrikaans language.

“It is part of the right-wing movement that thrives on heightened racial tensions to appeal to those who wish to plunge the country towards a slippery slope as well as a vicious cycle of conflict, racial hatred and violence,” he said, adding that the defeat of forces opposed to radical socio-economic transformation and cultural tolerance would help reclaim unity, reconciliation, nation-building and social cohesion.

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AfriForum, however, noted that this isn’t over yet, as it plans to take the judgment on appeal. Its deputy head, Alana Bailey said they would study the judgment and then consider their options.