Language war hots up at universities

28 July 2016 - 08:44 By SIPHO MABENA and SHENAAZ JAMAL

The fight to keep Afrikaans as a language of instruction at universities is hotting up, with the Higher Education Network vowing to join court cases over the issue as friends of the court.AfriForum approached the Pretoria High Court yesterday to stop Unisa from changing its language policy.Despite losing the urgent application, the Afrikaans interest group will continue to fight the distance-learning university's plan to become an English-only institution.Judge Nomsa Khumalo struck the urgent application off the roll yesterday, saying AfriForum had failed to make a case for urgency.Though disappointed by the judgment, AfriForum's Werner Human said the outcome spurred them to expedite their review application."We are going to exercise all processes, including approaching the judge president, to have the review application heard expeditiously as part of our accelerated plan," he said.But Higher Education and Transformation Network spokesman Hendrick Makaneta said AfriForum's case against Unisa and an earlier one involving the University of the Free State must be challenged vigorously, because AfriForum was using the courts in an attempt to co-govern the university."This is going to have a bearing on other universities trying to transform and change the medium of instruction to make the universities inclusive," he said."We are not saying we want to kill the Afrikaans language, but other languages also should be given a fair opportunity to develop and thrive in academia," said Makaneta.AfriForum obtained a high court order setting aside the University of the Free State's decision to abolish Afrikaans as a medium of instruction on all levels.The university will appeal the decision."This is a matter that will set back universities in terms of transformation in higher education."We are speaking to the University of the Free State and will be applying as friends of the court in this matter," said Makaneta...

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