Judgment reserved in AfriForum’s court case over Afrikaans at Unisa
19 March 2018
Judgment has been reserved in the case of AfriForum against the monolingual English language policy of the University of South Africa (Unisa). The case was heard today in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Unisa’s new language policy stipulates that English is the only primary language of instruction at this institution, which will mean the phasing-out of Afrikaans.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, this boils down to gross infringement of the internationally recognised language rights of students at this institution. “Unisa has over the decades mastered the ability to present modules in Afrikaans. With the new policy the university is taking a giant leap backwards to monolingualism, not only to the detriment of Afrikaans, but also all other speakers of indigenous South African languages. AfriForum hopes that this case will be settled in favour of the civil rights organisation so that access to tertiary education can be expanded, rather than further favouring first-language English speakers and treating the more that 90% of other South Africans as second-class citizens by forcing them to study in a second language.”
Bailey refers to the revised national language policy for higher education that is currently available for public commentary, as announced in the Government Gazette of 23 February 2018. “The concept policy for this exact reason advocates for wider language empowerment and acknowledges Afrikaans as an indigenous South African language. Unisa’s decision in favour of a monolingual language policy is in direct contravention with this. Further, Unisa is exceptionally able to provide full-value multilingual education in various languages, as it is a distance learning institution where so-called segregated classes, such as at the University of the Free State (UFS), cannot be used as an excuse for monolingualism.”
Bailey urges the public to support AfriForum and the protection of Afrikaans language rights with R10, by sending an SMS with the word “Unisa” to 38313.