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Afrikaans lobby group disappointed after Maties language policy ruling

While ConCourt judges had different views on the university’s language policy, they were unanimous that the decision to place English above Afrikaans was reasonable.

FILE: At the centre of the legal arguments was the cost of making English and Afrikaans equal as per Stellenbosch University’s 2014 language policy. Picture: www.sun.ac.za.

JOHANNESBURG - Afrikaans lobby group Gelyke Kanse on Thursday said it was disappointed at the Constitutional Court ruling that English should remain the main medium of instruction at Stellenbosch University.

While ConCourt judges had different views on the university’s language policy, they were unanimous that the decision to place English above Afrikaans was reasonable.

At the centre of the legal arguments was the cost of making English and Afrikaans equal as per Stellenbosch University’s 2014 language policy. The institution argued it would have to build infrastructure worth R640 million and an additional R78 million would be needed for translations.

Judge Johan Froneman said the court found in favour of the institution’s argument.

“The exclusion of non-Afrikaans speakers from full participation in tuition and other institutional benefits was a legitimate basis for upgrading English while continuing to offer significant tuition in Afrikaans,” he said.

The court said it was satisfied that the university would still offer Afrikaans. However, Gelyke Kanse’s Danie Rossouw said they were disappointed with the judgement.

“There are already four universities in the Western Cape, three of which are English completely. The way it’s going to go with the implementation at Stellenbosch, it’s still going to be English and that’s probably why we are disappointed,” he said.

Despite the ConCourt judgment, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng appealed to the private sector to support efforts to preserve Afrikaans.

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