Judgement on UFS language policy paves the way for Constitutional Court
It is a tragedy that educational institutions and courts provide so little protection to the internationally recognised right to mother tongue education. Because access to Afrikaans education remains a priority for AfriForum and Solidarity, conversations with international forums and experts continue with the aim of tackling the protection of this right in the international arena. Meanwhile, alternative opportunities to study through the medium of Afrikaans is also being developed in the private sector.
In response to the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal in favour of the language policy of the University of the Free State (UFS), AfriForum and Solidarity are currently in discussions with the legal team of that institution. The possibility is being considered to approach the Constitutional Court on appeal against the judgement.
Even in the judgment it is clear that different views exist on the meaning of Section 29 of the Constitution. This section deals, among other things, with the right to education in a student’s language of choice, subject to feasibility. It is important that the ruling judges admit that the phasing out of a language such as Afrikaans from the language policy of a tertiary institution is detrimental and should be a source of concern for all language groups in the country.
AfriForum and Solidarity will protect and defend the rights of Afrikaans speaking students to education through the medium of Afrikaans in all possible ways within the legal framework. As is rightfully mentioned in the judgment of the Court of Appeal, language rights are closely intertwined with cultural identity and minority rights, and it is necessary that the Constitutional Court rules on Afrikaans as medium of instruction at tertiary level. For this reason, leave to appeal to this court will be welcomed.
Once certainty regarding the application for leave to appeal has been obtained from the Constitutional Court, a media statement will be issued in this regard.
Issued by Flip Buys, Chairperson, Solidarity, 28 March 2017