POLITICS

Status of Afrikaans is being actively threatened – Afrikanerbond

JanBosman |

14 February 2022

Organisation says it will cooperate with other organisations and communities to stop absurd, ill-considered proposals of Dept of Education

The status of Afrikaans is being actively threatened by language imperialism

14 February 2022  

1) The status of Afrikaans at residences of the University of Pretoria

On the afternoon of Thursday, 10 February 2022, the Afrikanerbond was approached by the concerned and upset parents of a first-year student in a residence of the University of Pretoria. To protect the student, we will neither mention his name nor identify the residence. The boy informed his parents that he and his roommate were forbidden to speak their home language, Afrikaans, in their room. The ban on Afrikaans was ascribed to “English being the official language”.

We took up the matter at once, on Friday, 12 February 2022, with the  Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof. Tawana Kupe. On that same Friday we received a letter from Prof. Caroline Nicholson, who responded as follows on the instructions of Prof. Kupe:

The University of Pretoria Language Policy  (2016) made provision for English as the Language of tuition and primary language of administration and communication.  This policy was revised in 2021 and from 2022, Afrikaans and Sepedi will be added to the languages of communication and administration.  The implementation of the revised policy will be incremental and an implementation plan has been developed.

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The residences and administration staff of the University are encouraged to also make use of other languages in their communications with clients insofar as this is feasible, practicable and affordable.

Nowhere are students or staff banned from making use of their home language and the University is committed to developing a culture of multilingualism on the campuses.  Staff and students are requested not to use languages in group settings in circumstances where the language is not understood by all participants as this may lead to a sense of exclusion.  This really is just a matter of courtesy.

I cannot speak to the specific incident you refer to as you have not given any detailed information.  I have thus copied the Vice Principle: Student  Life and Mr Legari, Director of Residence Affairs and Accommodation.  Mr Legari will be best placed to address you on the policy and practice within the residences and to take the matter up with the Residences.”

We responded immediately with a request that the residences’ language policy and their practice in the application of such policy be communicated to us. We also enquired whether the management of residences and other parties were aware of the incident in question or of other similar incidents. Furthermore, we specifically requested that student leadership and senior students be communicated with urgently to avoid similar incidents.