Opinion mixed at news all Stellenbosch lectures available in English next year
MIXED reactions met the announcement by Stellenbosch University management that all classes will be available in English from as early as January.
This included criticism the institution had “no appreciation for and dedication towards Afrikaans education”.
The university has seen protracted student protests over its language policy since earlier this year and on Thursday night announced that “since English is the common language in South Africa, all learning at Stellenbosch University will be facilitated in English”.
Parallel- medium teaching ( separate English and Afrikaans classes) for modules with large enrolment numbers, as envisioned in the current language plan, would be drastically accelerated next year, the university said. It acknowledged that the student and staff activist group Open Stellenbosch Collective had been instrumental in the decision.
It further announced communication at student residences as well as administration activities including meetings, official documents, and services at reception desks and the call centre, would be in English.
The Afrikaans advocacy group AfriForum was not impressed, with deputy chief executive Alana Bailey declaring the announcement was proof of the university’s lack of commitment to the Afrikaans language.
Bailey accused the university management of “extreme ideological obligingness, or serious ignorance”.
“Internationally recognised best practices prove that mother tongue education is the best option for students and further also supports the presentation of education in high function languages that are used in the vicinity of a tertiary institution,” she said.
She called on the university’s alumni, donors and “anyone feeling strongly about the promotion of Afrikaans as high function and education language, must take note of management’s point of view and ask themselves if they can continue supporting management”.
But James de Villiers, the SRC’s head of communication, countered it was not a university’s job to protect any language, “but rather to ensure the best education for its students”.
“We believe this move by management tries to achieve this. This decision isn’t about the marginalisation of any group, but rather about ensuring that all students are on an equal footing when they arrive at this university.”
De Villiers said the SRC was concerned about the sentiments raised by members of the convocation about the announcement on the use of English.
“We trust that the council and the convocation will not stand in the way of a more inclusive university, and that they will realise the huge role the amended language policy will play in achieving this.
“We also encourage them not to see this as an attack on Afrikaans, but rather as a way forward in terms of becoming a more accessible, world-class university.”
The announcement will be on the university council’s agenda when it meets on Monday, November 30.