South Africa: SA Human Rights Commission to Investigate Controversy Over Afrikaans At Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University campus (file photo).

Since March, Stellenbosch University's language policy has been under the media's gaze after misuse and deviation from it have been brought to the fore. At the centre of the debate are two conflicting constitutional rights, and the need for transformation.

When Izel Schoeman -- a first-year student living in Nerina Residence at Stellenbosch University -- was told to use a "language of inclusion" during welcoming season, it meant that she would at times not be able to use her home language, Afrikaans.

"I understand that [the residence's leaders] are coming from a place of mutual respect: to speak a common language to include everyone," Schoeman said.

This is common across residences, particularly in formal settings such as house meetings, and is in line with the university's language policy, in section 7.2.5, which calls for language use that is inclusive to all participating in any formal activities in their living environments.

The same policy has recently come under fire after incidents in the Minerva and Irene residences, in which students were allegedly prohibited from speaking Afrikaans during welcoming programmes and in informal settings.

At least three more incidents prohibiting the use of Afrikaans have since come to light.

Now the South...

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.