South Africa: Stellenbosch University Is Committed to Inclusive Multilingualism - Stop Using Us As a Punchbag

Stellenbosch University campus (file photo).

There has been controversy around Stellenbosch University's language policy with regard to Afrikaans, some of it stirred by political parties. They pay no regard to the facts and are apparently oblivious to the complexities associated with implementing multilingualism at a large higher education institution. It is unacceptable for Maties, or any other university in South Africa, to be abused as a political football and punchbag.

Language - more particularly Afrikaans - at Stellenbosch University (SU) has again been hotly discussed in the media over the past while. Is there an actual problem, or are we dealing with opportunism for political gain? I believe it's the latter, and I will be supporting this statement by relying on the facts about SU and language.

From the outset, I admit that things do go wrong sometimes. If students are being instructed not to use Afrikaans in a social context, it is wrong. It is equally wrong if students are being pressurised not to use Afrikaans in a course where Afrikaans is clearly accommodated in the course specifications. This is not our policy; it is not supposed to happen. I am sorry about it; we are investigating and rectifying the matter.

This, however, does...

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