The Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched a petition to make Afrikaans equal to English at Stellenbosch University.

The party says the aim of the petition is to protect the right to mother tongue education against university management’s persistent attacks.

In 2016 the university implemented a new language policy that elevated the status of English in an effort to avoid making black students, who are not fluent in Afrikaans, feel marginalised and excluded.

DA shadow minister of Public Service and Administration, Leon Schreiber says they want equality of languages.

Schreiber says, “We’ve seen over the last few years a situation where English has become the only language that is available for students to study in. What our petition is arguing for is to get to a situation where there is equality between the two, where no Afrikaans speaking student is excluded from education and life at the university, while at the same time no student who wishes to study in English is excluded.”

The file video below is on the language decision taken by the University of Stellenbosch in 2016:

Earlier in the month, DA leader John Steenhuisen said he will take the issue of students who are reportedly forced to speak English in their residences at Stellenbosch University to Parliament.

Steenhuisen visited the university on a fact-finding mission to speak with students and members of the university convocation. He said Afrikaans-speaking students were being forced to speak English when talking to their fellow students in their residences by house committees.

Steenhuisen condemned this as a “major suppression of the right to mother tongue education,” and said he would take the matter further to Parliament.

He said, “This is part of the broader problem, the genesis of the problem is that the university has failed to implement its language policy correctly to ensure there is dual medium education at Stellenbosch. The good news is the policy is up for review and we are looking forward to playing an important role in making inputs to ensure the protection for mother tongue, but at the same time offering opportunities for students who don’t necessarily speak Afrikaans.”