DA wants to take Stellenbosch University language policy to Parliament

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Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen says 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 says Afrikaans-speaking students are being forced to speak English when talking to their fellow students in their residences by house committees.

Afrikaans-speaking students are blaming house committees for forcing them to communicate with their fellow students in English in their residences.

Most of the students want to be unanimous because if their names are mentioned something might happen.

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

He says, “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.”

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

The university says it’s language policy is aimed at promoting equitable access to the university as well as multilingualism.

Spokesperson Martin Viljoen says the university investigated the claims in certain residences. He says this was limited to one residence and is due to the misinterpretation of the language policy.

Viljoen says, “There’s neither an English-only policy in residences nor our students are prohibited from speaking Afrikaans or any other language for that matter. The university has been continuing its engagement with student leaders in residences on the matter, while a media process is underway in the specific residence to work towards a common understanding of the language policy based on the feedback received, immediately issues were resolved in the specific residence.”

He added that the university will continue conversations about the implementation of the language policy and the value of multilingualism.