UNISA court ruling not in line with development of language rights – AfriForum

Organisation says govt continuing to rush head along on a monolingual path

Court ruling on Unisa’s language policy not aligned with language rights developments 

26 April 2018

It is with disappointment that AfriForum takes note of the High Court’s judgement this morning in AfriForum’s case against the monolingual English language policy of the University of South Africa (Unisa). The Court has ruled in favour of this policy.

According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, the verdict is not in line with developments in the field of language rights currently taking place nationally and internationally. “Worldwide there is an increasing need for the promotion of more mother languages and the development of multilingual environments within which greater social cohesion and better academic achievements are attained. However, South African government departments and most universities unfortunately do not take note of this, but continue rushing ahead along a monolingual path.”

According to Bailey, the Draft Revised Language Policy for Higher Education recently published for public comment, displays an encouraging understanding of the complexity of the language situation in South Africa and the need for the use of more languages for teaching and administration purposes at universities. Furthermore, research by independent South African experts in the field of languages, including the late Prof. Neville Alexander, as well as Proff. Elirea Bornman, Theo du Plessis, Russell Kaschula, Dr Monwabisi Ralarala, Ms Zakeera Docrat and international experts such as Proff. Fernand de Varennes, Rosemary Salomone and László Marácz clearly prove the social and economic benefits of multilingualism. There are also legal actions that take place or are being planned in, inter alia, the Netherlands and Italy to prevent the unbridled Anglicisation of tertiary education institutions.

South African institutions should start looking beyond ideological considerations and rather concentrate on expanding the language rights of all students, including Afrikaans speakers, instead of creating a sham of equality in monolingual institutions via the violation of language rights,” adds Bailey.

AfriForum’s legal team will study the statement in detail before deciding on an application for appeal.

Issued by Marelie Greeff, AfriForum, 26 April 2018