DA launches petition to recognise Afrikaans as an indigenous language

03 October 2021 - 14:00
The Constitutional Court ruled on Sepember 22 that Unisa failed to demonstrate that it is not reasonably practicable to continue with Afrikaans as one of its languages of instruction.
The Constitutional Court ruled on Sepember 22 that Unisa failed to demonstrate that it is not reasonably practicable to continue with Afrikaans as one of its languages of instruction.
Image: Dudu Zitha/Sunday Times

The debate over teaching in Afrikaans in SA is far from over.

The DA has launched a petition against higher education minister Blade Nzimande, demanding the amendment of the Language Policy Framework for Higher Education to recognise Afrikaans as an indigenous South African language. 

The policy framework recognises languages ​​belonging to the Southern Bantu language family as indigenous. 

“An indigenous language is a language that is native to a region or country and spoken by indigenous people,” says the policy.

The DA says this definition is unscientific, hurtful, hateful towards the Afrikaans-speaking community and is contradictory to the September 22 ruling by the Constitutional Court.

The party said after amending the policy framework, Nzimande must apologise to the Afrikaans speaking community for undermining their constitutional right to dignity, mother tongue education and equality.

“Nzimande must request all public universities, including the University of Stellenbosch, to adapt their language policies in accordance with Afrikaans’ status as a fully-fledged indigenous language, so that mother-tongue instruction in Afrikaans is expanded rather than restricted,” reads one of the DA's demands.

The petition has received just more than 2,400 of its goal of 200,000 signatures.

Earlier this week, Nzimande dismissed suggestions by the DA that he “hates” Afrikaans. The minister said he recognises the language as one of 11 official languages and accused the DA of narrowly advancing the interests of Afrikaans speakers with little to say about other languages that remain underdeveloped.

The DA filed a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission, accusing the minister of classifying Afrikaans as a foreign language. 

This after the Constitutional Court ruling last week ordered the University of SA (Unisa) to change its language policy to include teaching and learning in Afrikaans by the start of the 2023 academic year.

Civil rights group AfriForum had launched a legal battle against Unisa after it discontinued teaching and learning in the Afrikaans language in 2016. The group hailed the judgment as a victory for Afrikaans-speaking students and language rights in SA.


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