The Constitutional Court is currently hearing a case involving University of South Africa (Unisa) new language policy to exclude Afrikaans as a language of instruction.
This after a 2020 ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in favour of lobby groups AfriForum, the SCA found that Unisa had neither implemented nor adopted its language policy in accordance with constitutional requirements.
The court ruled that Unisa’s new language policy was unconstitutional and unlawful. Unisa has now approached the Constitutional Court to seek leave to appeal the ruling.
AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs Alana Bailey says about 30 000 Afrikaans-speaking students studying at Unisa need clarity.
Bailey says, “In 2016 Afriforum started the legal process against the University of South Africa because they implemented the language policy that phased out Afrikaans as language of tuition, thereby infringing on the language rights of more than 20 000 Afrikaans speaking students of all races. We feel that it is very important for tertiary education to make room for more languages and remove the rights of more languages that are already in use.”
The DA welcomes the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling that the removal of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at UNISA was unlawful and unconstitutional.
This ruling is a victory for mother-tongue education and language diversity at tertiary institutions.https://t.co/iWFG9bjIca
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) July 1, 2020
In 2020 the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the SCA’s rejection of Unisa decision to remove Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
In 2017, Unisa made English the only language of instruction at the institution.
The DA’s spokesperson on Higher Education, Science, and Technology and Member of Parliament, Belinda Bozzoli says the ruling is a victory for mother-tongue education and language diversity at tertiary institutions across the country and sets an important precedent for the protection of language rights in the country.
She says Afrikaans, like all of the country’s indigenous languages, deserves equal protection and academic development.