Ruling on Unisa language policy a victory for Afrikaans – AfriForum

SCA finds university's English-only language policy to be unconstitutional and unlawful

AfriForum: Ruling on Unisa language policy an enormous victory for Afrikaans

1 July 2020

AfriForum views the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal in favour of AfriForum’s case for the preservation of Afrikaans as fully-fledged language of education at the University of South Africa (Unisa) as an enormous victory for Afrikaans, Afrikaans students and also for language rights in the country. 

The Court found that Unisa’s current language policy – which provides only for English as primary language of tuition – is unconstitutional and unlawful. The Court also ordered the University to publish prominent notices in three Afrikaans newspapers and on its website to bring the ruling to the attention of students and the public. The notice must also include a complete list of all modules that were available in Afrikaans until the implementation of the current language policy in April 2016 to allow prospective students who want to register for these subjects to take these subjects again from their first year onwards. These subjects must again be offered completely and in all academic years in Afrikaans.

According to Alana Bailey, Head of Cultural Affairs at AfriForum, the ruling – which comes after a five-year-long battle – is of enormous interest of all Afrikaans students in the country, but also for the future of Afrikaans as high-function language.

“The fact the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered this ruling is of great interest – it is the highest court that has yet ruled in favour of Afrikaans education on tertiary level. The cost order against Unisa further confirms the moral high ground of students who demand the right to education in their native language.”

“It is important that it is eventually acknowledged that access to tertiary education must be extended to not only create room for English first language speakers, but to also accommodate more native languages. Unisa has yet again excluded Afrikaans recently from their plans to encourage staff and students to master more languages. The ruling emphasises that Afrikaans also has a place on government-supported campuses,” Bailey concludes. 

The ruling is available on request.

Issued by Carina Bester, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 1 July 2020