South Africa: English Prevails in Stellenbosch University Language Battle

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Gelyke Kanse, an Afrikaans lobby group, has failed in its bid to revert to Afrikaans as the main medium of instruction at Stellenbosch University.

English will be the main medium of instruction at Stellenbosch University. The Constitutional Court ruled that Stellenbosch University's 2016 Language Policy, which prefers English as the main medium for learning and teaching, was constitutionally valid.

The court was asked to make a determination on the constitutionality of the university's 2016 Language Policy, after an application was brought before it by voluntary association Gelyke Kanse. Gelyke Kanse sought to have the 2016 policy set aside on the basis that it prevented Afrikaans-speaking South Africans from receiving tertiary education in their indigenous mother tongue.

Gelyke Kanse, meaning equal opportunities in English, had argued that by giving preference to English while diminishing Afrikaans at the university, the 2016 policy contravened Section 29(2) of the Constitution, which provides for every person to receive education in an official language of their choice, where that education is "reasonably practicable".

But the Constitutional Court did not agree and in a unanimous decision handed down by Justice Johan Froneman on Thursday 10 October, found that Stellenbosch University's adoption of the 2016 Language Policy was...

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